Simon Mignolet may be Jürgen Klopp’s first choice in goal, with Loris Karius the highly-rated contender who despite a disappointing first season could still win the job over the longer haul. Yet after Klopp decided he was unwilling to let Danny Ward leave this summer, it would be unwise to count out the 24-year-old Welshman.
Ward arrived at the club in 2011 from Wrexham as a highly rated young shot stopper and has won plaudits both at the youth level with Liverpool and out on loan the last two seasons with Aberdeen and Huddersfield—both of which wanted to keep him permanently. Now, perhaps belatedly, he’s getting his chance back at Liverpool.
“I’m good to go,” Ward told the club’s official website today ahead of his expected start in the League Cup against Leicester City. “I had a little knock in pre-season which held me back, but since then I’ve been training absolutely fine. I played in pre-season and I’ve been working hard on the training pitch [for] if I get a chance.”
When Klopp blocked a permanent move to Huddersfield for Ward over the summer, there was even some buzz that he could be in line to unseat either Mignolet or Karius in the squad. That pre-season injury, though, ensured he would head into the season third on the depth chart. Normally, that would mean only playing with the U23s.
It’s been clear that Klopp wants to rotate his goalkeepers, though, and even if Mignolet is first choice, there will be playing time at Liverpool this season for others—and a chance to perhaps win the starting job at the club over the longer term for either Karius or Ward if they take their chances, something Ward says he’s ready to do.
Having played nearly 50 games in all competitions for Huddersfield last season and helping The Terriers to earn promotion to the Premier League has given Ward confidence, and the goal is to get back to playing week in and week out as quickly as possible, even if right now he’s pencilled in at this on the depth chart at Anfield.
“I’ve not played a competitive game since [the playoff final with Huddersfield at] Wembley, so I’m excited,” Ward said. “Those experiences help because it gives you the reassurance in yourself that you know you can play at a big level on a big occasion and produce. I’ve been lucky that I’ve had loans that have gradually gone up.
“You learn more and more each time. It’s like a building block, what you learn from your first loan you take into your next loan and it carries on. It led to last year at Huddersfield, where I had a whole year playing nearly 50 games.”