Martin O’Neill has opened the door to Jamie Ward returning for Nottingham Forest and expressed his delight that out-of-favour players are taking it upon themselves to play u23s football to boost their match fitness. Ward returned from a loan spell at Charlton Athletic in January, having scored and created two goal in 11 appearances.
The 32-year-old has an uncertain future at the City Ground as he’s out of contract this summer and hasn’t featured for Forest since January 2018. He’s made a total of 62 appearances in all competitions since joining from Derby County in 2015 and has embarked upon loan moves to Burton Albion (August 31, 2016 – January 20, 2017), Cardiff City (January 31, 2018 – May 31, 2018) and Charlton.
Despite being on the periphery for some time at the City Ground, O’Neill said to Nottinghamshire Live: “Ward has been out on loan at Charlton and in some games he played very well. In other games perhaps things bypassed him. For whatever reason, the players have found themselves in this position.
“But in terms of attitude, to want to play in a game like that, the desire is still burning strong within them. So that is good news for a start. They are players who have been around here for a while, but who have not played a lot of football.”
Ward has Ben Osborn, Diogo Goncalves and Joe Lolley for competition, but he could be rewarded for his hard work with playing time in the first-team before the season comes to a close. It may be sporadic appearances from the bench, however.