Ward: Unexpected step up

Stephen Ward admits he 'couldn't have imagined' stepping back into the Premier League until Burnley came calling.

The Republic of Ireland international found himself frozen out at Wolverhampton Wanderers and contemplating a return to former loan employers Brighton & Hove Albion.

He admits he would happily have made that move, allowing him to form part of another promotion push in the Sky Bet Championship.

The 28-year-old has, however, been offered another shot at the big time by Burnley and is delighted to have joined the ranks at Turf Moor on an unexpected three-year contract.

Ward said: "I enjoyed it at Brighton and would have been happy to go back but I didn’t have to think twice when Burnley appeared on the scene.

"I couldn’t have imagined getting back into the Premier League when I was training away from the main group with the other players Wolves were looking to unload."

Linking up with Burnley has been made a little easier for Ward by the fact that there are a number of familiar faces on Sean Dyche’s books.

He has previously worked with the likes of Jason Shackell, David Jones, Michal Kightly and Sam Vokes at Wolves and hopes they can replicate the top flight success they enjoyed together at Molineux.

Ward added: "It’s a bit like old times and hopefully we can do what Wolves did in the first two seasons, by defying the odds and staying up."