After being thrust into the first team this season, the Emsworth born player has acclimatised very well to the Championship. He is quick, versatile and can support the attack with his forward runs.
His defending can be suspect at times but at the age of 21 that is something that will improve over time. Defenders tend to mature much later in their careers as opposed to midfielders and strikers and so there's no reason why young Joel can't become a top player if he continues to develop at the rate he currently is.
This is why David Lampitt and co. must do everything in their power to ensure that Ward stays at the club for the next few years at least. It won't be long before bigger clubs will cast their beady eyes over Ward and tempt him away with an offer that Balram Chainrai et al won't refuse.
Ward seems like one of these players who will stay loyal to Pompey when the going gets tough (and it's likely to get much tougher next season) and so it'll be good to have a quality player who is here permanently rather than borrowed somewhere else.
Not just that, but keeping hold of Ward would retain some Pompey pride. It's not often that the club can boast that is has produced a quality player from its youth system but Ward may end up becoming an excellent player in the future.
Therefore if he were to go on to bigger and better things then at least we could take pride that it was our football club that produced him, just like Southampton fans pride themselves on their youth system as they have nothing else to boast about.
And at least if he did sign new terms and then left the club he would fetch a fairly reasonable fee to pay off those massive debts, so it makes perfect sense for Joel to commit his long-term future to the club, even if he doesn't see it out.
So, let's hope that any offer for Pompey's rising star is rejected and that new contract is signed sooner rather than later as Ward may well go on to become one of Pompey's most important assets both on and off the pitch in the future.