Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp may have said that he would prefer the club’s prospects to spend their time training around the first team and playing together at the reserve level rather than heading out on loan, but most expected he would be happy to make an exception when it came to Danny Ward.
Sheyi Ojo, Ryan Kent, Tiago Ilori, and Kevin Stewart were all recalled in time to take part in Friday’s FA Cup draw with Exeter City. Now, Ward too will be returning to the club from what had been meant to be a season-long loan. And he’s likely to be in contention to face Exeter in the FA Cup replay on Wednesday, January 20th.
Ward, a 22-year-old goalkeeping prospect who arrived at the club in 2012 from Wrexham, had played a key role in Aberdeen’s unexpected challenge for the Scottish Premier League title. They currently stand second, three points back of leaders and favourites Celtic, and Ward has started every game since he arrived.
He has ten shutouts in 21 league appearances, and has conceded less than a goal per game on average. He also made six appearances for Aberdeen in the Europa League qualification rounds and two in domestic cup action. Had he remained, he would have been a lock to start every game the rest of the way this season.
To make it worth recalling him, one has to believe Klopp sees a role for him at the club this year. While it’s nearly unthinkable that role is to challenge Simon Mignolet—though as with Brad Jones and Adam Bogdan before him, some will surely stump for the unknown—a role as the club’s number two could be on the cards.
That might make it worth recalling him, especially with an important FA Cup tie on the horizon. And that could spell the end of Bogdan’s time at the club after the reserve keeper let in back-to-back howlers in his two most recent appearances for the club.