BAD news for Blue Square Bet North strikers. Tom Ward says he is twice the player he was at the start of the season - and believes the best is yet to come.
The 21-year-old was drafted into the Boston United first-team squad for pre-season training after being a vital part of the reserves side which lifted the 2010-11 Lincs League title.
And after a baptism of fire in pre-season - including a forgettable match against Lincoln City - the defender has fought back to make a regular starting place his own.
“I feel like I’m twice the player I was in July,” said Ward, who had made 23 appearances before last night.
“And, hopefully, there’ll be more to come from me.
“But I know that won’t be easy. I have to get my head down and work hard for that.”
Ward believes his improvements are down to three factors - regular football, the support of his managers and the experienced heads around him.
“All the lads around me are fantastic,” he added.
“There are great players in this squad who have a lot of experience and aren’t afraid to share it.
“Playing regularly makes a big difference.
“You quickly learn about how football is played in this division and it makes me more confident.
“The managers have also shown faith in me and given me regular encouragement.
“If they believe in you it makes you feel better about your game.”
After beginning the campaign on the bench, Ward’s first three starts - alongside Alan White - heralded the side’s first three clean sheets.
Injuries have seen the Pilgrims’ back line chopped and changed regularly this campaign, with Ward also playing alongside White, Kevin Austin and Lee Canoville.
But strict competition for places doesn’t bother Ward.
Instead, he says it inspires him.
“I’m really enjoying my football. Right now I feel I’m pretty much established in the team and comfortable there.
“But it’s good to know we’ve got so many good players in the squad. We all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and can easily fit in alongside each other if we need to make changes.”