When Danny Ward moved from Liverpool to Huddersfield Town on-loan last summer, it is highly unlikely the goalkeeper could have imagined his time in the Sky Bet Championship would have gone as well as it has.
Ward was Huddersfield’s hero in Wednesday night’s penalty shootout victory over Sheffield Wednesday, which sent David Wagner’s side within 90 minutes of Premier League football.
The 23-year old goalkeeper saved penalties from Sam Hutchinson and Fernando Forestieri, to set up a Wembley showdown with Reading on May 29th, where the biggest prize in football awaits the winners of the play-off final.
It is unclear if Ward’s future is in West Yorkshire, with Jurgen Klopp keen for the goalkeeper to compete with Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius for the Liverpool ‘number one’ shirt.
However, there is every chance Ward could find himself back out on-loan again next season, if he fails to impress Klopp on Liverpool’s pre-season tour.
Sunderland, who are heading for the Championship, should be first in the queue to sign Ward, particularly with speculation surrounding the future of their goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, who has been exceptional in a disappointing campaign for David Moyes’ side.
Ward has kept 11 clean sheets for Huddersfield this season, playing a major role as the club defied all odds and matched the Championship’s elite to qualify for the play-offs.
Sunderland are likely to lose Pickford this summer, and there have been question marks raised of Vito Mannone’s ability, meaning Moyes may well be on the lookout for a new number one this summer.
Ward has proved to be a calming influence for Huddersfield this season, integrating himself as a key part of Wagner’s side and his performance in the play-off semi-final shows he can deal with the pressure that the Championship can throw at you.
If Liverpool decide Ward is not ready for a first-team opportunity at Anfield, Sunderland must look to beat their rivals and secure his signature.