independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Taste of big time puts Forde's focus firmly on Premier League

BUOYED by his heroics at Wembley, David Forde is targeting the Premier League after a whirlwind six months that has taken him to a new level.

The Millwall man is Ireland's only injury doubt ahead of tomorrow's World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands, but he insists that a calf issue will not prevent him from figuring at Lansdowne Road.

"I'm fit and ready to rock," said the 33-year-old Galwegian, who sat out last Sunday's stroll over Georgia as a precaution.

His statement could apply to his future plans after a sudden rise to prominence in 2013.

Forde has thrived since claiming the Ireland No 1 spot from Keiren Westwood due to superior match sharpness and his performances have backed up the judgment of Giovanni Trapattoni.

Goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly raved about Forde's attitude yesterday, noting how he responded to some errors he made in the early stages against Poland when he had just moved into pole position.

"David threw a couple of balls out too quickly and they got intercepted," said Kelly.

"As a goalkeeper, if you stand back and hold the ball, even if someone is screaming at you to give it, it shows, 'I am in control,' and the perception that gives to everyone around just shows you're not worried about anyone else. You can see now that he is walking tall with his chest out."

Forde (right) can see where Kelly is coming from, admitting that he is finding it easier as each game passes to cope with this new-found responsibility.

"It's no different to any job, you come into it and you always have to find your feet and work your way into it," he said.

"It's the same at club level. It's new surroundings and there's a lot of expectation and it's experience too. The more you play in these games, it's not the easier it comes, but the more accustomed you become to it.

"It certainly does help that I'm older. When I look back to when I was younger and my West Ham days, at the time I feel I just wasn't ready.

"I've played in a lot of big games, played a lot of football now and that certainly helps. Your mentality seems to change as well. That strength of mind, that character and belief that you've worked so hard to get to where you are."

REALISTIC

What comes next? His dream to play in the Premier League looked realistic as he stood tall at Wembley, a game that he rated as the level just below a major tournament experience.

"It would be nice to do it with Millwall," he continued. "I've got one year left on my contract and we're managerless at the moment (Steve Lomas is expected to take charge), so nothing has been said. I'm looking to get back to pre-season and see where that takes us. But, first and foremost, I've got a job on hand here and that's keeping a clean sheet against the Faroes. A win will set us up nicely for the rest of the campaign."

After sitting out the business end of Wednesday's training session, Forde anticipates full involvement in Malahide this morning.

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