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AFC Bournemouth: Ward believes shape is key to clean sheets
EXPERIENCED campaigner Elliott Ward made the case for the Cherries defence and reiterated his belief in the team's durability ahead of today's clash with Middlesbrough.
Summer recruit Ward, 28, a staple part of the Norwich City side that won promotion to the Premier League in 2011, has partnered Championship rookie Steve Cook in all but one of Cherries' league fixtures so far.
The only disruption to that alliance came when Ward hurtled back to Dorset for the birth of his son Henry prior to the fixture at Huddersfield three weeks ago.
But since shipping five at the John Smith's Stadium, clean sheets have helped to secure single goal victories against Doncaster and Barnsley, results that have convinced Ward Cherries are on the right track ahead of their trek to the Riverside.
The towering defender told the Daily Echo: “Whenever you get a clean sheet it stems from being organised and having a good shape, and while a few of the goals we have conceded this season have been preventable, we have still kept clean sheets.
“That shows the quality is there because we've kept teams at bay when our shape has been good and we should take a lot of confidence from that.
“A lot of work has gone into it (the shape) which is good because everyone knows their jobs. It's something that has been driven by the manager and if different players need to come in everyone still knows what's expected of them.
“We didn't use the ball as well as we could have during the first half against Barnsley, but while they counter-attacked quite well we were there to stop them.
“Rocky (goalkeeper Ryan Allsop) hasn't had too much to do, we looked pretty solid and things changed in the second half. We built on our good shape and deserved to win and hopefully we can continue that at Middlesbrough.”
Meanwhile Ward, who made 31 Championship starts while on loan at Nottingham Forest last season, praised the progress of fellow stopper Cook but played down his own influence on the former Brighton man's progress.
He added: “Cooky is a good player and we bounce off each other quite well. He has had a decent start to the season and improved with every game he's played and I would expect that to continue as the season goes on.
“I am here to help out but I don't feel any pressure over that because I am still learning myself. You never stop learning in football.”
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