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Crystal Palace defender Ward: Upcoming games are an opportunity to improve our bad form


Long-standing Crystal Palace defender Joel Ward believes the club’s upcoming fixtures present an opportunity to improve their bad form.

Despite a successful start to the campaign, the South Londoners have won just two of their last 13 matches in all competitions. Those victories came against West Brom and Sheffield United sides who both occupy places in the relegation zone.

Palace face Wolverhampton Wanderers at Selhurst Park tomorrow. The West Midlands outfit have not won a league game since December 15, although they did knock the Eagles out of the FA Cup earlier this month. Wolves also won the reverse fixture 2-0 in October.

Each of Palace’s next six matches are against teams who sit around them in the league table. After Wolves (who are 13th) there are trips to Newcastle United (16th), Leeds United (12th) and arch-rivals Brighton (17th). Burnley (15th) and relegation-threatened Fulham (18th) visit Selhurst Park.

Ward, 31, told Premier League Productions: “If you break the season into blocks, this potentially is a good block for us to put some points on the board. That’s what we want to do and what we set out to do leading into every game.

“If you look back over Premier League history, you’ll see teams go through spells where they are picking up results, and others where they are not picking up results and not getting as many results as they would like.

“There are always periods throughout the Premier League season when points are difficult to come by. The only way we come out of that is by doing what we do day in day out, working on the training pitch and trying to take that into matchdays.

“There have certainly been positives throughout the season. There have obviously been moments when we should have capitalised on things and got a few more points on the board.

“Over the season you often look at moments and think: ‘if this, if that,’ but I think on the whole we’re moving in the right direction and we want to continue that. The main focus for us is to continue to push on and look forward.

“Nobody likes to lose. We’re not in this business to lose football matches, so we want to put it right and we will do everything we can to make sure we do that.”

The former Portsmouth man has competed for the right-back position with Nathaniel Clyne this season, making 11 appearances to Clyne’s 10. The latter recently signed a new contract with his initial short-term deal due to expire this month.

Ward was signed in 2012 as a replacement for Clyne, who had moved to Southampton, and has since made 258 appearances for the Eagles. But he has relished the competition for the position that has occurred since the Palace academy graduate returned in the summer.

“Competition is healthy,” Ward continued. “You look at any team and there needs to be competition for places – someone to keep you on your toes.

“It’s only going to raise the bar, for me or for him or for any player that is fighting for their position. It’s a healthy thing to have.

“I just want to continue playing football. I want to make sure I’m on the pitch and readily available.

“We want to be getting points on the board and looking up. We’ve got a wealth of quality and experience in the squad, and we need to use that.”

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