Danny Ward is hoping to use his experience on loan at Huddersfield Town to return a “better goalkeeper” and establish himself at Liverpool.
Ward joined the Terriers on a season-long loan in July, linking up with Jurgen Klopp‘s close friend, David Wagner—manager at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Huddersfield started the season excellently, undefeated in their first six Championship games and establishing themselves at the top of the table, but this has since dropped off.
They now sit third, eight points adrift of first-placed Newcastle United, having won just once in their last five.
Speaking as he prepared to depart for international duty with Wales this month, Ward said this was a testimony of the quality in the league, insisting “we are punching above our weight.”
“At the start we got off to a flyer, top of the league,” he explained.
“But the thing with this league is that anyone can beat anyone, there are so many different styles and a lot of big clubs in this league.
“But we are punching above our weight and long may that continue, because we’ve got a great manager and a lot of great players.
“The ultimate goal in this division is to get promotion. For a club like this to finish in the play-offs would be massive.”
While tangible success would be a marker of Ward’s positive spell under Wagner at Huddersfield, the focus for the 23-year-old will be to continue his development with regular first-team football.
He has so far played every minute of every game for his loan side, and can hope that this experience will benefit him when he returns to challenge for a starting role at Liverpool.
“On a personal note, my aim is to just keep playing games, have a consistent level of performance and see where that takes me,” he continued.
“It feels at the minute as though it was the correct decision [to join Huddersfield].
“Wagner told me to come here and enjoy it. He said his aim is to make me a better goalkeeper, so I can go back to Liverpool with better qualities and more experience.”
Ward is well placed to challenge Loris Karius for a place between the sticks on Merseyside, with both exactly the same age and possession similar qualities.
The German has more top-level experience at this stage, and has usurped Simon Mignolet as Klopp’s first-choice goalkeeper.
But Klopp can be encouraged by Ward’s form in West Yorkshire, as the competition in his goalkeeping ranks continues to improve.
With Mignolet having signalled he isn’t prepared to stick around as back-up to Karius, you could see Ward returning to Anfield and replacing Mignolet in the summer.