JAMIE Ward has been handed a new contract by Derby County with a message from head coach Steve McClaren to be more consistent in his performances and goalscoring, writes Steve Nicholson.
Ward was in the final year of his contract and has now signed a new two-year deal taking him to the summer of 2016.
The 28-year-old is battling with Johnny Russell and Simon Dawkins to fill one of the two wide attacking roles.
He was a substitute for the Championship opener against Rotherham last Saturday and started the Capital One Cup tie at Carlisle on Monday.
Ward has hit 20 goals in the last two seasons but he has not found the net in his last 24 games, since the victory over Doncaster on December 21.
His goals-per-game ratio for Derby is one every 4.3 games – 28 in 122 appearances.
McClaren believes Ward is capable of scoring goals in the Championship.
"The club has got together with Jamie and sorted it (the contract) out," said McClaren.
"It has been frustrating for him, and us. Now everybody can settle down and get back to playing football, contributing and scoring goals – which is what Jamie Ward does best.
"He is an infectious character around the place, he is great in the dressing room.
"His goals have dried up but look at his record, 20 goals in the last two seasons, and he had a great spell last season with six goals in nine matches.
"He needs to be more consistent in his play, and his goalscoring.
"The club has gone a long way to make sure we got him a good contract. Now Wardy has to get back to what he does best."