sport

Clough: No problems for Ward

Derby forward Jamie Ward has suffered no ill-effects following his return from injury earlier this week.

Ward played almost an hour in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Burton on Tuesday afternoon and even got himself a goal in the Rams' 9-1 rout of Albion.

The 26-year-old was sidelined for three months after tearing his hamstring in the 1-0 win over East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on September 30.

His comeback as a substitute in the recent 1-1 draw at Charlton, where he scored Derby's equaliser from the penalty spot, lasted just 16 minutes before his hamstring tightened and he missed the victories against Middlesbrough and Tranmere.

Manager Nigel Clough hopes there will be no repeat with his recovery this time and will err on the side of caution with the Northern Ireland international, but the early signs look good.

"Jamie has had no ill-effects from the Burton game, so far," Clough told the media ahead of his side's Championship trip to Brighton on Saturday.

"He trained on Wednesday and, as you would imagine, he did feel a bit stiff and tired from the game the day before. But otherwise he was alright and he felt in pretty good shape. He will have a rest on Thursday and then we will have him in on Friday."

Derby will monitor Ward ahead of the Brighton game, but the home clash against rivals Nottingham Forest on January 19 is a more likely target for his return to the squad.

"We have to be careful with him because he has been out for so long. We took him to Charlton and gave him 10 or 15 minutes and he couldn't last that. We must remember how long he has been out," said Clough.

"We would love him to come with us (to Brighton) but it is a long journey for somebody who has had a hamstring injury, so we will see. If necessary we will get him ready for the Under-21 game we have on Monday and look to build him up to the Nottingham Forest match."