A surprise start for reserve Liverpool ‘keeper Danny Ward saw the Welshman backstop his country to their first win at Euro-2016 as a stunning free-kick from Gareth Bale and a late strike from Hal Robson-Kanu downed Slovakia in their tournament opener on Saturday. Although the youngster isn’t expected to start the all important meeting with England on Thursday with first choice shot-stopper Wayne Hennesey on the mend, the 22-year old is going to enjoy this ride while it lasts.
“I am not expecting anything,” said Ward when asked about the meeting with the Three Lions. “I will just go about my business again as normal, whether Wayne is fit or I play or Owain Fon Williams [the squad’s other ‘keeper] we will all support each other.”
This, of course, comes on the back of the youngster facing an uncertain future at Anfield. Liverpool were fully expected to bring in a ‘keeper during the summer transfer window and Reds boss Jurgen Klopp wasted no time in doing so with FSV Mainz 05 shot-stopper Loris Karius drafted in to either provide competition for or flat out replace current incumbent Simon Mignolet — that all depends on whom you care to believe. Having been recalled by the Merseysiders from his loan with Scottish side Aberdeen during the January window, Ward was handed his full debut for the club during the second half of the season and while he could very well find himself out on loan when he returns to domestic duties, he experience he’s earning in France will be invaluable for his future development.
“Times have changed,” said the 22-year old. “That’s football, it can change in a blink of an eye. It has been a crazy year. Hopefully I can keep getting more experiences,” enthused the Welsh goalie. “I wouldn’t say it was intimidating, more excitement,” he added, reflecting on the win over Slovakia. “As a player you want to be involved in big occasions like this, on the world stage, and the fact you are doing it for your country is a special feeling.”