Cotterill hails "tougher" Ward

17 March 2011 11:00
Portsmouth boss Steve Cotterill admits the decision to move Joel Ward into midfield was based on little more than a gut feeling. The 21-year-old had spent most of his fledgling career in defence before Cotterill pushed him into the heart of midfield against Nottingham Forest in January. He has excelled in his new role, playing a key part in Pompey's run of just one defeat in nine matches. Cotterill told The Portsmouth News: "I don't want to elaborate too much but I suppose you get a feeling a bit on certain things. Whoever turned Kevin Phillips from a right-back at Baldock into one of Europe's best goalscorers must have had a feeling one day. I'm not saying it's where Joel will end up but he's done well there - very well." The former Burnley manager revealed Ward had also toughened up, adding: "At the beginning of the season he was a real nice boy who took the nice boy on to the football pitch. He would get pushed and shoved off the ball, would get kicked and not kick back and lost headers. "People won't remember that but we will. We would, for instance, watch a match and compare it to now. He's a different kid, completely different. He shakes your hand stronger than he did six months ago. He has that look where he will use his body weight when he has a tackle. I thought we needed him to be that bit more aggressive. Even the top players in the world are aggressive."

Source: PA