Stephen Ward has credited Burnley boss Sean Dyche for the club’s impressive defensive displays in the Premier League.
After keeping a fourth clean sheet of the term against Hull City earlier in the month, the Clarets claimed a remarkable win against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium after surviving long periods of sustained pressure.
And the Republic of Ireland international was quick to recognise the contribution of the Turf Moor boss: “We do pride ourselves on defensive performances, defending well in the 18-yard box, so we’re really happy. We work hard in midweek on being a tight unit and it’s great to get the result.
“I was just trying to get myself in the right positions (against Stoke). The manager works really hard on the back four, getting our bodies turned and in the right positions, so it’s a credit to him that he has us defending the way we are.”
The 29-year-old added: “I think Stoke have become a very attractive football team under Mark Hughes and we knew they could mix the game, but when Crouch comes on and they are throwing everything at you they have that ability to go longer.
“We had to stand up to a lot of pressure and a lot of crosses and I thought we did it really well.”
The former Wolves man feels the Clarets will continue to be written off despite closing the gap on their rivals at the bottom end of the table. However, Ward has stressed that the squad genuinely believes they can survive at this level.
“We’ll probably still get written off but it’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “The belief we have in our changing rooms is that we can stay in this league and that is the most important thing.
“We’ve got big characters and an honest group, the manager has assembled a really honest squad and we’re getting our just rewards.”
Dyche has utilised his squad well this term, with rotation keeping players on their toes.
In the previous four fixtures Dyche has brought on seven different substitutes in a bid to influence games with Lukas Jutkiewicz, Steven Reid, Michael Keane, Nathaniel Chalobah, Ashley Barnes, Marvin Sordell and Michael Kightly all involved from the bench over that period.
Ward believes that competition for places is bringing the best out of the team: “There is good competition and that’s what the manager wants, he wants people challenging for places because it keeps everyone on their toes.
“At the minute we’ve got players who can fill in in every position, which is vital. It’s a long, tough season and everyone is going to play their part and everyone has so far to date.”
Ahead of Aston Villa’s arrival at Turf Moor, Ward added: “Every game is tough in this league, you can never take any game for granted.
“You have to prepare for them all in the same way and we’ll do that, it will be nice to get back in front of our home fans and if we can get another result it will be really nice.”