Saint destined Forr' export

Aidan Fitzmaurice

IT'S A SOURCE of pride for St Patrick's Athletic fans to have two of their old boys flying the flag for Ireland on the European Championship stage next month.

And while Kevin Doyle - of course he's known as a Cork City player but he made his debut in senior football with St Pats - and Keith Fahey have already made the step-up to international football, Saints manager Liam Buckley reckons that current star Christopher Forrester won't be too far behind.

"It's probably unfair on a lad to make big predictions as that brings added pressure, but I have no doubt that, with the talent he has, Christopher has the ability to play at all levels and that includes full international," Buckley said ahead of the Saints' home game with Cork City tonight.

"Christopher has this superb ability. We are trying to work with him in terms of his diet, bringing on the tactical side of his game and developing him as a player, but someone like Christopher has a natural talent that you just can't coach. You either have it or you don't and Christopher has it," added Buckley.

Some international recognition could be on the way as Forrester has been placed on stand-by for the Irish U21 squad ahead of their vital Euro qualifier at home to Italy next month.

But Buckley, who learned a thing or two about the rigours of senior international football from his days as an Ireland player in the 1980s when he had legends like Liam Brady and Frank Stapleton as team-mates, feels that Forrester -- if he maintains his progress - can follow the example of players like Kevin Doyle and Keith Fahey who won senior caps after leaving Richmond Park.


Forrester dipped his toes in the water of League of Ireland football last season with Bohemians but Bohs fans only caught glimpses of him, as he made just 10 league starts for the Gypsies.

With less than a quarter of the 2012 season gone he's almost beaten that record already, with eight starts for Pats, and his form is now attracting wider attention - his displays in April earning him the honour of being chosen as Player of the Month by the Airtricity Soccer Writers Association.

He's already attracted cross-channel interest - Forrester had an unsuccessful trial with Wolves last year - and more clubs are sniffing since he put on some scintillating displays this season, so Forrester could join Super Saints alumni in making it abroad.

Championship side Burnley have already expressed an interest but West Ham, who could be in the Premier League next season, are also tracking him, along with one club who are already promoted, last season's League One champions, Charlton.

"We don't want to lose Christopher, we'd love to have him here for a long, long time but I don't think the club would stand in his way if an offer came in that was right for him and for the club," said Buckley. Forrester will get another chance to shine tonight as Pats take on Cork City at Richmond Park, a big night for the Saints -- Pats can go four points clear of champions Shamrock Rovers if they can win tonight as the Hoops are not in action until tomorrow.