Stephen Ward hoping to draw on Premier League experience

Stephen Ward played in the Premier League with Wolves
Stephen Ward played in the Premier League with Wolves
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Burnley’s seventh signing of the summer Stephen Ward will be drawing on previous Premier League experiences to aid his first season at Turf Moor.

The Republic of Ireland international made 94 appearances for Wolves in England’s top tier after helping Mick McCarthy’s side win the Championship title in 2008/09 – the same season the Clarets were promoted via the play-offs.

But while a mix of Owen Coyle and Brian Laws failed to preserve the Clarets’ Premier League status, Wolves finished 15th with 38 points before surviving a second season – finishing a point above the drop.

“You can’t relax for one minute in the Premier League, you’re playing against such quality opposition,” he said.

“Our first year we came up similar to Burnley on the back of a really successful season and I thought that really helped us the first year. We were used to winning games, everyone was confident.

“It was a new thing for a lot of people in the squad and everyone was hungry to prove themselves and prove they belong at that level. Hopefully we’ve got similar attributes like that in this squad and we can use that to our advantage.”

Ward added: “It’s very similar. The minute we got promoted we were odds on favourites to go down. We didn’t sign too many players, it was a similar squad to the one that got us promoted.

“Sometimes that underdog tag is something you can use to your advantage. We certainly did that year and hopefully we can do the same.”

However, the 29-year-old eventually endured relegation with his former employers after culminating the 2011/12 term in bottom spot.

“You learn more from relegations than you do your promotions,” he said. “I’ve taken a lot from them both on the pitch and off it. What I’ve found is how difficult it is when you drop back in to the Championship. That’s one thing we don’t want to do here and that’s why everyone is determined to work as hard as they can to make sure it doesn’t happen for a while.

“I believe I’ve learnt a lot from that and hopefully that bit of experience I can pass on to some of the lads in the squad. To stay up would be a fantastic achievement. You have to give the Premier League a lot of respect, you have to really earn the right to stay in the league and we’ll work as hard as we can to do that, and hopefully build on that if we can achieve our goal.”