CHORLEY boss Tony Hesketh has leapt to the defence of his ex-Birmingham City star Chris Ward – but admits he will never be able to change him.

The much-travelled Ward came in for criticism at the weekend after his display in the 3-2 UniBond League First Division North win over Rossendale United when, after being booked for dissent, he was fortunate not to see red for a dive in the penalty area.

Hesketh admits that Ward can be a frustration when he walks a fine disciplinary line but is well used to that and says it runs in the family, having also managed his father two decades ago.

“Chris has always run a fine line,” said Hesketh. “He has had his 10 bookings and a red card for this year and serves a suspension next week and that is a blow for us.

“But that is Chris Ward. He is all action and puts himself about a bit.

“You do try to quell the seedier side of his game but that is Chris and you can’t take that out of his game. You can’t change him but I am used to it and I tried to manage his dad, Chris Ward senior, 20 years ago and he was just the same.”

Meanwhile, Hesketh believes his former Morecambe youngster Michael West could make a return to the higher levels of football.

West is impressing in the centre of Chorley’s midfield as he looks to revive his career and Hesketh said: “Young West is a perfect foil for Ward and Gavin-Lee Ellison and keeps us in a good defensive shape.

“He completed 60 passes on Saturday and never wasted a thing and he is one of a number of players who could go and play at a higher level.

“But they enjoy it here. We have had a tough time this season – but everyone has come through and it will make them better players.”