Ritchie: My mate Ward deserves the plaudits

Joel Ward
Joel Ward
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett Picture: Joe Pepler

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Matt Ritchie hailed the progress of his pal Joel Ward and told him: You’re getting the success you deserve.

Ritchie believes his old Pompey team-mate is now reaping the benefits of the continued hard work he has put in to make the grade.

Ward crowned a memorable first full season as a senior pro by picking up a number of the player-of-the-season awards as the campaign drew to close.

The Emsworth talent made 46 appearances for his hometown club, with Steve Cotterill utilising him in a number of different positions.

Ward responded to that challenge by delivering a stream of consistent displays which have made a favourable impression on his manager.

Ritchie, though, suffered the pain of being told he was not wanted by Cotterill and eventually moved on to Swindon Town, who were ultimately relegated from League One.

He left Fratton Park in deal worth around £200,000 in January and went on to pick up player-of-the-year plaudits at the County Ground.

Ritchie’s disappointment at not making it with Pompey has failed to cloud his delight at the success of his mate Ward, though.

The Gosport midfielder said: ‘Joel’s grafted for everything he’s got.

‘Joel totally deserves everything he has got coming to him.

‘Everyone you speak to will tell you that he is a great lad.

‘Not only that, he’s a great player.

‘He never stops working and he deserves this now.

‘He has had a great season with Pompey.

‘He got his chance and has grabbed it with both hands.

‘Fair play to him, you can’t take it away from him.

‘Joel’s always in the gym, first on the training pitch and last off it. He’s a top man.’