Ward ready for 2009

Nick Ward readily admits 2008 was his annus horribilis but after finishing the year off with a cracking goal against Sydney last week, the midfielder is hopeful 2009 will be a happy new year.

Nick Ward readily admits 2008 was his annus horribilis but after finishing the year off with a cracking goal against Sydney last week, the midfielder is hopeful 2009 will be a happy new year.

Ward arrived at Victory late in 2007 full of hope after a spell in England didn't turn out as planned. The combination seemed perfect. Melbourne needed an energetic box-to-box midfielder while Ward needed game time if he was to press for selection for the Olympic side.

He played a big part in Melbourne's 2008 AFC Champions League campaign despite struggling with a persistent groin injury, but he didn't get his wish of an Olympic berth.

Off the back of that, Ward suffered a calf injury in the pre-season, meaning he missed the first six games of this season, putting him behind the eight ball. He has made just one start since and has been used off the bench.

But Ward is hoping that his stunning strike in the second half of the 3-2 win against Sydney, a goal he describes as the best of his career, can be the launching point for a big finish to the season.

"It hasn't been the greatest season for me, with injuries and stuff, it's topped off a bad 2008 for me," he said on Tuesday.

"It would probably be the best one I've scored. I haven't had a good look at it yet, I've seen it from one angle. The ball was a bit short from Tommy (Pondeljak), I dinked in side, I took a touch and Shannon Cole dropped off, and I caught a glimpse of the goals and I was on for a strike," he said.

Ward feels that his fitness hasn't been better in his time at Victory, and the only thing he is lacking is time out on the field to show his best.

"My fitness is fine, I'm a naturally fit type of player. It's just a matter of getting game time and getting confidence as well. That comes with playing week in, week out. It's frustrating being on the bench, but I'm sure I'll get my chance," he said.

Ward is working hard to keep the team goals and his own goals in harmony. He still harbours ambitions to go back and play in Europe, but in the short term, his concerns are all about Melbourne's run to the finals.

"I'm more focussed on playing (here) at the moment. It hasn't been the greatest year with injuries but I'm focussed on having a good end to the season and then talk then," he said.

"It was an important win for us on the weekend. It puts us back in the top two and we can push on for the finals."