Ward: America will make me a better player

Joel Ward is being sent to America by Steve Cotterill
Joel Ward is being sent to America by Steve Cotterill
Gareth Evans sporting the captain's armband at Havant earlier this month. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Joel Ward is convinced his American boot camp will make him an even better player.

The 21-year-old is jetting off to California in two weeks’ time.

He has been booked in for a gruelling month of strength and conditioning work at a venue just outside Los Angeles.

The trip to the States has been organised by Steve Cotterill, who believes Ward, pictured above, will reap the rewards.

The Blues boss is keen to focus on bulking up the 21-year-old following his impressive maiden first-team season at Fratton.

Ward has so far made 45 appearances in a fine campaign which has seen him collect no fewer than four player of the year trophies.

Now he will travel to America in a bid to maintain his development.

And the youngster is adamant the trip can continue to enhance his game.

He said: ‘In mid-May I’m going for a month to California, just outside LA.

‘It’s to get some work done out there, working with specialists one-to-one and hopefully it will help.

‘The gaffer knows people who have worked out there so I am in good hands.

‘I will be focusing on leg work, speed, power and strength.

‘They will be building me up and making sure I look after myself and get the right things done.

‘I think looking after yourself is extremely important. You want to give yourself the best opportunity in life.

‘It’s not that I am not strong enough, it’s down to you always wanting to be the best player you can be.

‘I am young and want to give myself the best opportunity at playing, so anything that can help out will be great.

‘It will be tough, but it has got to be done and I’m really looking forward to it.

‘Hopefully, I will come back stronger and fitter and be ready to go for next season.’

Ward’s trip to California caps what will be a busy post-season.

Once his month-long stay is over, he will be given several weeks off before pre-season training starts early in July.

Pompey are currently finalising plans to spend a fortnight on tour in America.

That will be on the east coast, in Orlando, Florida, and Charleston in South Carolina, where they will play three friendlies.

Inevitably, Ward will also be in attendance.

It adds up to little time off for the versatile performer following a gruelling 2010-11 campaign with Pompey.

Not that he’s complaining as he looks to keep improving.

He added: ‘I’ve got a bit of time with my family and it will be a relaxing time, too.

‘You look at the top players and they have done it before – they look after themselves and that is what you want to be.

‘You want to be the best you can be and you have got to have that desire to be the best.You have to do whatever you can to get to the top.’