Republic of Ireland defender Stephen Ward has not given up hope of making the last-16 of Euro 2016, despite suffering a heavy 3-0 defeat to Belgium.
Martin O’Neill’s men were outclassed by a Belgian side currently ranked second in the world and now face Italy on Wednesday, needing a win if they are to have any hopes of progressing in the tournament.
Italy have already assured their passage to the knock-out stage with two wins from their first two group games but there is hope that they will field a weakened side for Wednesday’s games.
Ward insists that Ireland can get the win that they need from that encounter and adds that they’re ready to give in their all.
“We’ll have to dust ourselves down and give it everything Wednesday because we still have a chance,” he said.
“The lads will leave everything out there and we’ll see where that takes us.
“Whatever happens, whoever goes out there, we’ll give it everything. It’s a tough group but we still feel we can qualify.
“We’ve pulled off big results before, we’ve been down in the dumps and come back strong so hopefully we can do the same again on Wednesday.”
Reflecting on the defeat to Belgium, Ward pointed to the opening goal as the turning point of the game.
“We’ve lost to a quality side but we didn’t help ourselves in terms of the way we’ve conceded the goals.
“I thought we were right in the game. Obviously they had a lot of possession in the first half but I felt we were in the game and if we’d kept it level maybe 15, 20 minutes into the second half, you never know what’s going to happen.
“We knew it was going to be difficult and we knew they’d have a lot of the ball but I thought in the first half our shape was good.
“We minimised them to two or three half-chances, nothing major and we were disappointed in the first half not to make more of some situations we got ourselves into.
“At half-time we were pleased and knew the first goal was goal to be vital. We’re disappointed with the way we conceded it.
“From there it’s difficult. You’re against a team who are good in possession, we gave it a go but we came up short.”