Published: 22/01/2013 08:59

Derby County striker happy to help out old pal

Written byDAVID BROOME

JAMIE Ward was happy to end up out of pocket following his crucial goal on Saturday, writes DAVID BROOME.

The Derby County striker marked his return to the starting line-up for the first time since September with the equalising goal in a 1-1 draw against fierce rivals Nottingham Forest.

But whatever Ward’s goal bonus might be, he will have to hand over £250 to a charity set up by Reds striker and close friend Billy Sharp.

The pair became good friends during their time together at Sheffield United and Ward promised that, should he score in the 91st East Midlands derby, he would make a donation to the LJS Foundation, set up in memory of Sharp's son Luey, who died as a result of a rare condition called Gastroschisis only two days after being born in October 2011.

"Me and Billy became good friends at Sheffield United and stuck together since going our separate ways," said Ward.

"We're very close – we even go on holiday together – and he's a good friend in the game. I said that if I scored, I would donate £250 to the foundation for his little boy, Luey.

"It was a tragic thing to happen. It's always nice to give something back, especially when we're as close as we are.

"It's brilliant that I'm able to do something to help the charity out."

However, Ward admitted that he may not have handed the money over quite so happily had Sharp found the net himself with the last kick of the game.

The on-loan Southampton man had the ball in the net in the dying minutes of the game, but it was ruled out for a foul, denying Forest a last-gasp win.

Ward said: "I'm glad he didn't score, otherwise I wouldn't have heard the end of it!"

The Rams forward insisted that there was no flare-up of his hamstring injury at Pride Park on Saturday, despite his 67th-minute withdrawal.

He said: "There was nothing wrong.

"I was just stiffening up a bit, which is understandable as I've not played much football in the past few months.

"It was what I expected to happen."

Ward also took the time to praise strike partner Conor Sammon for laying on his goal, saying: "Sammo did very well to get the ball for the goal.

"He's a good striker to play with. He's a big man who can hold the ball up and bully defenders.

"He deserves a lot of credit for putting the chance on a plate for me.

"And I stuck it in the net, which is the hardest thing in football to do."

Finally, Ward revealed that the team always believed they could get something from the game, despite going a goal down when Forest’s Chris Cohen netted a fortunate opener.

The 26-year-old said: "We're never afraid of going behind, because we know we've got goals in us.

"We've showed a lot of character this season, when we've come back into games.

“We were strong and got back into the game.

"When they got their goal, it deflated us a bit because we were doing all right until then but we came back out and got the equaliser.

"I think everyone is happy with a point and it was probably a fair result.

"Obviously, we didn't want to lose the game," he said. "That was important to everyone at the club, so it was good to get a point.”

The LJS Foundation aims to raise funds for medical research into the condition and to support families affected by it.

More information about the LJS Foundation can be found at www.ljsfoundation.org.uk.

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