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Patience pays off for Crystal Palace defender Joel Ward

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PALACE defender Joel Ward wants to take the performance from last weekend's 0-0 draw against Barnsley and turn it into three points away at Ipswich Town on Tuesday night.

The right-back returned to the starting line-up for the first time since recovering from injury against the Tykes and put in a solid display to earn a clean sheet.

"Ipswich have always been a good team – they had a bad start to the season but Mick McCarthy has gone in and done a good job," Ward said.

"We're going to go there and expect a hard game like all of them are in the Championship.

"If we work hard, we'll go in there all guns blazing and come away with three points.

"We can build from the match against Barnsley and take the clean sheet and good performance to Portman Road.

"I was glad to have a clean sheet on my return but it was disappointing we didn't come away with the three points.

"The game against Millwall may have been moved from this weekend but we'll continue to stay prepared so that we have the best opportunity for Tuesday."

And the 22-year-old was delighted to put on the red and blue once again for the first time this year and hopes to help the club push for promotion.

"It's been a long time," he said.

"I've had to be patient in coming back but I'm happy to be back out there and put the shirt on again – it was a great feeling to play last Saturday.

"There were some complications making a return from the injury, so that was a bit of a setback.

"But I have settled in really well at Palace and I'm really happy where I'm at the club. It's been a great season.

"I would have loved to have been involved a little bit more but that's the way it is.

"You just have to pick yourself up and look after yourself – I have done that and now I just want to stay fit for the remaining games."

The right-back position has certainly had some competition this season, with Ward fighting it out with Darcy Blake for a starting spot, and now he has Jazz Richards to compete with.

But Ward says it will keep him alert and on his toes for the rest of the season before the Welshman returns to parent club Swansea City.

"Jazz is a good player and Swansea is a fantastic club, so it's great he's come out for the experience with us," he said.

"Any player, in any team, in any squad, you have to have competition for places as it keeps it healthy and helps everyone in the squad with every position – it's important everyone is on their toes."

Ward paid tribute to everyone connected with Palace after what he sees as a "fantastic" season and, just like Peter Ramage mentioned last week, it's about remembering how far the side have come following a very difficult start to the season.

"People get frustrated when results don't go our way but we've had a fantastic season and been in contention pretty much for all of it," said Ward.

"We've shown the desire to stay up there for the whole season, so it's a testament to all the boys and the staff at the club that we've done that.

"The fans also help because their support at home and away has been fantastic, so generally the club has done so well, and we'll do everything in our power to keep pushing forward."

And on the back of the news that his former club Portsmouth are on the verge of being bought by a fans' consortium, Ward admits it's been hard for him to witness what's happened at the club over the last two years.

"Regardless of who you are, you don't want to see a club in that situation," he said.

"Portsmouth are a great club with great support – it's a one club city.

"It's tough to see as the club is close to me and they brought me up.

"It was my first opportunity to play football there and hopefully they can sort themselves out."

Patience pays off for Crystal Palace defender Joel Ward


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