Ireland and Scotland fans are two of the best in the world: Stephen Ward
Stephen Ward knows Steven Fletcher as well as anyone.
The pair shared two seasons in the Premier League together at Wolves and, in that time, the Irish man would’ve gotten a close enough look at the Scotland striker, who is currently firing on all cylinders.
Ward admitted that he had been chatting to Fletcher in the build-up to Friday night’s clash but insists that there is still a derby feel about the impending Ireland-Scotland game, even if the relationship is of a good nature between the two nations.
“We know a lot of players there and people have been texting back and forward so it’s a strange one,” Ward said at Malahide this afternoon as Martin O'Neill added some finishing touches to the squad’s preparations. “It’s going to be more like a league game than an international.
“I think the rivalry between Scotland and Ireland has been fairly friendly over the years so I don’t think there’s too much tension. I think the atmosphere will be really unique so it’s going to be a great occasion and, playing at Celtic Park, I think the players are all really looking forward to it.”
One added tonic to a game of such locality is that both sets of teams are right up there in the mix in Group D. They are both on each other’s radars and they both require a result in Glasgow.
“We’ve both started really well in the group and it’s a big game for both of us but every game is going to be big,” the left back stated. “I suppose, looking at it, Ireland and Scotland have had kind of similar results so it puts a bit more emphasis on it.
“Obviously Steven Fletcher is in good form at the minute. We’ve looked at Scotland but we’re looking to go there and play our own game and hopefully do well.
“We’ve started well so we should be full of confidence, really. We don’t have too much travelling to do going to our close neighbours; it’s a big game but we are confident that we can go there and put on a performance.”
The Burnley player has ran out at Celtic Park once before but that was a pre-season match with hardly anywhere near the likes of 60,000 screaming fans. It is something he is relishing.
“It’s a very special place and it will be a special atmosphere. We’ll have to deal with that but it’s something to look forward to. The two sets of fans are up there with some of the best in the world so I’m sure it will be a special night.”