Mansfield Town youngster Keaton Ward hoping for a start in crucial clash with Oldham Athletic
Mansfield-born midfielder Keaton Ward is hoping he has done enough to be involved in depleted Stags' squad for Saturday's crucial home clash with fellow strugglers Oldham Athletic.
The 21-year-old played just in front of the back four in Tuesday's 2-1 home Papa John's Trophy defeat by Sheffield Wednesday, his ninth appearance since returning to the club he started out at after a spell at Barnsley, and his third Stags start.
“I think that was my best display so far, getting on the ball first half and getting us playing from the back was helpful,” he said.
“It was just great to be out there in front of the fans for the first time since being back.
“Ever since I came back all I want to do is get in that team every week, show everyone what I can do, and then kick on.
“I will train hard to the end of the week and hopefully put a thought in the gaffer's mind, whether that's just on the bench and maybe getting a run out for 10 or 15 minutes and make a difference then.
“Or, with what's happening at the minute with the injury crisis, maybe get out there for another 90.
“I am not sure how close I am. We can change formations to make sure we get through it on Saturday.
“I'd like to think I was close, but that's probably a conversation me and the gaffer need to have and see what I need to do more to be getting in there regularly.
“I will play anywhere. You could tell me I was playing in goal and I'd be happy. I will just go on and do the job that's been asked of me.”
Ward said he was bursting with pride after making his first full start at home.
“It was brilliant playing for my hometown club in front of everyone – I could burst.
“They were brilliant, singing all game long. A lot of my friends and family were up there so it was nice to go out and put in a display in front of them all.
“Since being 13, 14 years old, thinking about playing and then to be here now, it's brilliant.”
Ward felt the stoppage time defeat by the Owls on Tuesday was harsh on the young Stags side.
“I think we deserved more against very strong opposition,” he said. “Every single player put a shift in and again we just fell short.
“Our luck will turn. I know it will and as a group we believe that's going to happen. That's the most important thing.
“It was down to a lack of taking chances. I think we probably created more clear-cut chances than them but just didn't put them away.
“It's one of them where you look at it and think 'when is the penny going to drop? When are we going to start doing that'? Hopefully it's going to start this Saturday.”