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Football: Ward glad at lucky escape.

Byline: By Paul Berry OUR MAN AT WOLVES

STEPHEN Ward is frustrated at the knee injury which has now kept him out of the Wolves setup for seven weeks.

Frustrated, but also mightily relieved.

Because without a quick and accurate diagnosis of a torn tendon he might well now be facing up to a Ronaldo-esque absence of nine months rather than hoping to be back in the frame within two or three weeks.

Ward has played through the pain barrier all season with tendonitis in his knee.

But the Monday after coming on as a substitute in January's 2-0 win at Scunthorpe, the striker-cum-winger suddenly felt a pain which was far more acute.

A scan revealed a tear in the tendon which was just two millimetres from being a complete rupture, the injury recently suffered by Brazilian striker Ronaldo.

"The injury is in the same area to the knee problem I've had but it's an actual tear in the tendon," says Ward.

"Without it I could have played through the pain until the end of the season with the odd injection.

"I'd got pains in my knees after training some days but on this Monday I went home and couldn't straighten my knee.

"I tried to get off the couch and felt a different pain but just thought it might be the tendonitis playing up.

"Unfortunately when I came in the doc said I needed to have a scan and that's when they found the tear.

"The scan showed I only had two millimetres of tendon holding my knee together so I could have torn it completely just getting up out of my seat or out of my car.

"If you look at Ronaldo from Milan he's just torn his and reading in the paper that's nine months out so thankfully mine was found when it was and the tendon has healed. It does feel like I've had a bit of an escape even though I'm frustrated to have been out for a fair while.

"But, in saying that, thank heavens it was found because it could have been a lot worse and I could have been sat here now just a month or two into a long recovery.

"I would have needed an operation and would have been a lot more devastated."

Working with recently-returned physio Steve Kemp, after seven weeks out, Ward is confident he will be back and ready within 10 after getting himself ahead of schedule.

"I'm back probably ahead of where I might have been at this stage," he explains.

"I'm running on it okay albeit just in straight lines with just a bit of twisting and turning.

"I've not had any pain in my knee so hopefully I can keep going and maybe next week get the ball involved.

"I'd say it's probably going to be another week-and-a-half before I'm back fully training and then it will take time to get back to match fitness."

Confident of adding to the 29 appearances already made this season, the Irish striker is also keeping his fingers crossed Wolves will still be among the play-off-chasing pack when he returns to availability.

"We're four points off the play-offs but we've definitely got the capabilities to be in there if we can come with a strong run," he added.

"It's always good for the teams who can come strongly at the end and get into the play-offs for the games that then follow.

"For me, all season I've had pain in my knee and then thankfully during games it seems to have disappeared.

"If I can come back strongly it will be great.

"Hopefully the boys will carry on doing as they are and we'll still be in with a shout."

CAPTION(S):

RONALDO.; RELIEVED... diagnosis of a knee injury came just in time for Wolves striker Stephen Ward.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Mar 8, 2008
Words:640
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