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Forde targeting top-flight football after keeping faith at reborn Lions

IRELAND keeper David Forde is hoping to write another chapter in his career by helping Millwall back into the top flight of the English game for the first time since 1990.

Only a few months ago, Forde's career appeared to be on a downward spiral as he'd lost his place in the team at a struggling Lions side and was no more than third-choice keeper with the national team.

But things have turned around drastically, as Millwall are now one of the in-form teams in England. An unbeaten 13-game run has seen them jump from the relegation zone to the edge of the playoff places, while Forde has kept five clean sheets in his last six games.

He also earned a start for Ireland in last month's friendly against Greece.

Should the Lions keep up their run, Forde, who turns 33 later this month, could soon grace the Premier League, and the Galway man says a return to the top division for the first time since Mick McCarthy, Tony Cascarino and Teddy Sheringham were in the side is the aim.

"It would be a real dream for me to get Millwall into the Premier League, especially at this stage of my career," Forde told the Evening Herald.

"And I feel we would be a great addition to the Premier League if we could get there. The potential here at Millwall is massive. I think people forget just how big a club this is, it's a sleeping giant.

"We took 50,000 to Wembley for the playoffs not so long ago and the support here is huge. We had a sell-out crowd against Charlton last week so people are coming out to see us and it would be great to see a club like ours in the Premier League.

"We're hungry as players and the chance of playing at Old Trafford and places like that is a big attraction for us. We have a long way to go in the season but if we can keep up the run we're on, we won't be too far away. We'll see where we are in the first week of May.

"We've had a taste of success now; our aim was to first get into the top half of the table and now we're just outside the top six.

"We beat Blackburn and Wolves away in the last couple of weeks and they were two big results for us. We're only outside the playoff zone on goal difference at the moment and if we win against Ipswich tomorrow we could get into the top six," added Forde, who is also enjoying his run of clean sheets. "The clean sheets run is a nice thing for a keeper to have, it gives you a bit of personal pride on top of the job you're doing for the team," the former Derry City man says.



sell-out

"Clean sheets are very hard to come by in this league so I'm proud of the run."

The twist in the tale is that a few months ago, Forde's Millwall career appeared to be over. Dropped by boss Kenny Jackett in favour of Maik Taylor for the final third of last season, the new term also started with Forde on the bench, but he persevered.

"I never got carried away when I was out of the side, I knew these things happen in football and being honest I was probably suffering from a bit of burnout at the time. I knew it was a matter of being patient and I would get back in, which happened, and I have gone on to another level since I got back into the side."

Internationally, things have also seen an upturn for Forde, who has become second-choice keeper for Ireland since Shay Given's retirement.

A late bout of illness to No. 1 Keiren Westwood (above) allowed Forde to start the game at home to Greece, on a night when the main dignitary at Lansdowne Road pulled the Millwall man aside for a chat.

"Michael D Higgins was presented to the players before the game and had a word with me; he just said it was great to see a fellow Galwegian play for Ireland," Forde smiles.

"It was funny meeting him like that as I used to play with his sons at underage level, with Newcastle United back in Galway.

"The result wasn't great against Greece but the performance was good and we felt hard done-by to lose, but to start an international in Dublin was a very proud moment for me."


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