Keeper Ward is on the mend after op

PUBLISHED: 13:55 04 March 2006 | UPDATED: 09:15 14 September 2010

Goalkeeper Darren Ward today put all thought of a new Norwich City contract to the back of his mind - concentrating solely on his recovery from a back operation.

Goalkeeper Darren Ward today put all thought of a new Norwich City contract to the back of his mind - concentrating solely on his recovery from a back operation.

Eight days on from surgery to repair a slipped disc, the 31-year-old Wales international is already well on the mend. Such simple pleasures as a good night's sleep have helped.

“I am actually starting to sleep quite well again. It must be all the drugs!” said Ward, still able to raise a smile after a difficult time with the injury. Goalkeeping and back trouble aren't an ideal mix - particularly when the player concerned is out of contract in the summer.

“It got to the stage where we all felt we had to take it to the next level and I'm now on the mend,” said Ward. “The surgeon seemed to be very enthusiastic about his work afterwards. He thought the operation went very well and I can only take what he's said at face value and, hopefully, everything's gone well.”

Ward has, it seems, a full nursing team at home to ease his recovery.

“All the family have been brilliant, really supportive - my wife Nicola and our two children, Rhys and Evie, have been great. They've been looking after Dad, now that's he's out of hospital with his broken back.”

As for a new deal with the Canaries or, indeed, a contract elsewhere, Ward is currently taking it softly, softly, gently, gently.

“We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now what I am most concerned about is the rest of my life. After that, what will be, will be.”

Ward today relived the moment he had to step into Robert Green's shoes - little more than an hour after he'd slipped that disc in his back.

It was the third round FA Cup tie against West Ham United at Carrow Road on January 7 and the 31-year-old Wales international was fully expecting another quiet day sitting on the sidelines, watching City's regular No 1 try to further his World Cup ambitions against their Premiership hosts.

Only things were about to all go horribly wrong - kicking off in the pre-match warm-up.

“I was suddenly very much aware of stiffness in the bottom, left-hand side of my back,” said Ward, all too well aware of what that was likely to mean. He had once suffered a similar complaint while at Nottingham Forest.

“I went in and spoke to Neal Reynolds and explained what had happened and he said there was nothing that they could do about it now because the teamsheets were already in.”

Then, of course, West Ham's Marlon Harewood collided with Green, the first-choice 'keeper was seeing stars as he departed on a stretcher and the luckless Ward suddenly had some work to do - making only his third senior appearance for City on the day he slipped a disc in his back.

“It was just Sod's Law - the one game that I do that and Greeny gets injured,” said Ward, who gamely threw himself into the fray and, indeed, pulled off a good save low to his right in the game's dying moments.

“I don't know whether it was because of all the adrenalin that was pumping through me, but it didn't seem too bad at the time. It just gradually got worse and worse after that.”

The theory was that Mother Nature would come to Ward's rescue and the pain and the stiffness would gradually ease. In the end, however, an operation was deemed the only way forward.

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