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Forde insists his Euro fitness is a Given

IRELAND'S back-up keeper David Forde has told Giovanni Trapattoni not to have any concerns about his match fitness for the Euro 2012 finals even though he's been dropped by Championship side Millwall.

The Lions secured their Championship status for another season last week, with the goals of Dubliner Andy Keogh playing a big part in their survival.

But long-serving keeper Forde has missed the last nine games of the season -- and is not expected to feature in the final match of the campaign next weekend -- after losing his place to emergency signing, veteran Maik Taylor.

Forde's situation with Millwall is just one part of a worrying goalkeeping scenario for Trapattoni ahead of the finals. Ireland have never needed a back-up keeper at a major tournament before as Packie Bonner (1988, 1990, 1994) and Shay Given (2002) played in every minute of every game when Ireland were at a finals.

But should something happen to Given in terms of injury or suspension at the finals, finding a match-fit and prepared replacement would cause concern as keepers Forde, Keiren Westwood, Stephen Henderson and Brian Murphy have played no football in recent weeks while Joe Murphy has just been relegated with Coventry City.

Apart from the exiled Paddy Kenny, only Darren Randolph (Motherwell) and Colin Doyle (Birmingham) have gained any first team experience in the last five weeks, while Westwood's last game was at Christmas.

But Forde, capped twice at senior level, has assured Irish fans and management that he will be fully fit and ready for action if called upon in Poland in June.

"There's not a problem with my fitness and if I'm needed in the games in the Euros -- if I make the squad that is -- then I will be fine to play," Forde told the Evening Herald.

"I have missed the last few games for my club but before that I'd played something like 180 games.

"I am as fit as ever, I am raring to go for the summer and I just hope that I get the nod when the squad is named next month.

"I suppose it's odd that a lot of the Irish keepers aren't playing for their clubs at the moment but it's not a concern for me, I have still played over 30 games this season.

"I'm as fit as could be and I don't feel there's anything to worry about in terms of Ireland, I'll be rested but still match-fit.

"The next challenge is to make the squad but fingers crossed I have done enough for the manager in the past to make it in there."

Former Derry City man Forde had been Millwall's first-choice keeper since he joined from Cardiff City in 2008 and helped them win promotion from League One in his first season at the New Den, but that run of games was drawn to a halt last month, when the Galway native was dropped after a 3-1 loss to Nottingham Forest in March and Taylor's been in the side ever since as Kenny Jackett's side did enough to avoid relegation.

"It's been a frustrating time. I was delighted that the club stayed up but it was disappointing to miss the last few games," Forde says.

"It's difficult for anyone when you see a player come in and take your position and it was no different for me when Maik came in, but these things happen in football and it's a question of how you bounce back.

"Looking back on the season as a whole I played a lot of games but the way it finished, I suppose it wasn't one of my better seasons.

"I had enjoyed a good spell here at Millwall, I think I had a record of 180 consecutive league appearances," added Forde, who will get a short break away from football when the Championship season ends next weekend before linking up with the Irish squad in Dublin in mid-May.


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