SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Ward fired up, Delap to remain at Stoke

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Here’s what the Echo was reporting on SAFC 10 years ago today.

WARD WARNS BEN:

Darren fired up to KO rival Alnwick

DARREN WARD endured a losing debut with Sunderland, but warned pal Ben Alnwick that he faces a battle to regain his place.

 Roy Keane dropped England Under-21 goalkeeper Alnwick for the first time this season, but Ward could do nothing to prevent Sunderland’s away day woes continuing at Stoke last night.

 The Wearsiders crashed to a third consecutive defeat on their travels, surrendering a half-time lead to go down 2-1 and slump to 19th place in the Championship.

 Ward said: “ From my point of view, getting a game is lovely. But the reason we are here is to pick up points and get up the table and we have failed to do that.

 “Ben and I are quite close – the goalkeepers’ union and all that – and we shared our thoughts about the fact that I was in the team.

 “This is my opportunity and I aim to take it. It’s going to be a big challenge because Ben is hungry and we both have a competitive attitude.

 “Everyone in the squad wants to play week-in, week-out and I’m no different. It’s my aim to keep the shirt now.”

 Ward had to sit patiently on the bench for his first-team debut after joining as a free agent in the summer.

 And the 32-year-old, who endured injury problems with previous clubs Nottingham Forest and Norwich, revealed the true extent of his wait for action.

 “My last league start was with Forest when I first did my back two-and-a-half years ago,” said Ward. “It has been a long time coming and I don’t want to let this opportunity pass me by now.”

 “Anyone worth their salt wants to play. It’s no good talking to the grandkids in the future and explaining your memories of sitting on the bench. There is no substitute for playing.”

CROCK DELAP STAYS AT STOKE

ON-LOAN Rory Delap will stay at Stoke City, despite breaking his leg in two places in only his second game for the club.

 The Irish midfielder only joined the Potters from Sunderland on loan last week.

 And after breaking his tibia and fibia barely 10 minutes into last night’s game, his home debut for Stoke, he could have been heading straight back to Wearside.

 But Stoke boss Tony Pulis revealed that the club intends to keep him at the Britannia Stadium and oversee his recovery.

 And the Potters plan to continue with their intention of eventually signing Delap on a permanent deal.

 He said: “We will make sure we look after Rory. He’ll be staying here.

 “It’s desperately bad news, though.

 “He’s broken his legs in two places, and an operation has had to be scheduled for today. We don’t know how long he’ll be out for – the surgeons will have to decide that.

 “But we are desperately, desperately disappointed for him and it takes the gloss off what was a great performance and a great result for Stoke City.

 “I’m delighted with the win but what happened to Rory puts a bit of a dampener on everything.”

 Black Cats boss Rory Keane admitted that the injury was a sickener for everyone connected with Sunderland.

 He said: “I’ve got a tremendous sympathy for Rory. It’s a sad part of football that bad accidents can happen.

 “It was accidental – Robbie Elliott for a nick on the ball before the collision.

 “But on behalf of everyone at Sunderland Football Club, I wish him well.

 “I know he’s having an operation today and we wish him and his family well.”