Monday 19 February 2018

I'm here to stay, warns Forde

David Forde has insisted he will not give up his starting place without a fight
David Forde has insisted he will not give up his starting place without a fight

David Forde has warned Keiren Westwood he has no intention of giving up his place as Ireland's first-choice keeper.

Millwall's Forde got the nod from then manager Giovanni Trapattoni last season with Westwood unable to displace Simon Mignolet at Sunderland having initially taken over from Shay Given following his retirement from international football.

New Ireland manager Martin O'Neill, who worked with Westwood at the Stadium of Light, named the Black Cats man in the starting line-up for his first game, Friday night's 3-0 friendly victory over Latvia, but has indicated that Forde will play in Poland on Tuesday evening.

However, the 33-year-old, who only made his competitive debut for his country in March, is in no mood to stand aside in the longer term.

Forde said: "Look, that's what you are going to get at international level. Everyone wants to play - you want to play for your country.

"I know what I have done over the past year and I am just looking forward to the next challenge.

"All I can do is control what I have been doing. At the end of the day, it is down to David Forde and what I do. I don't get too worried about what everybody else is doing.

"That's all I can do, really. It took a long time (to get into the team). I am enjoying every game at the moment and I love just meeting up and being involved.

"It's a fantastic challenge for me and one I just keep looking forward to every time."

Forde and his team-mates have spent the last week working with O'Neill and number two Roy Keane, and the process of trying to impress them enough to win a starting birth is ongoing.

But he, Westwood and Newcastle's Rob Elliot face the additional challenge of catching the eye of new goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh, who has replaced Alan Kelly after eight years in the job.

Forde said: "That's just football, these things happen in football. Alan Kelly has been fantastic for me in my development and in how I have improved as a goalkeeper.

"But we know that's football at the end of the day and we have the new goalkeeping coach now and I am just looking forward to working with him and see how we get on then."

Westwood was a virtual by-stander for much of the Latvia game, but Forde is likely to be significantly busier in Poznan, the site of Ireland's Euro 2012 finals defeats to Croatia and Italy.

The keeper said: "You see the Poland side - they have one of the best strikers in the world at the moment in (Robert) Lewandowski, so it's going to be a difficult game, especially away in Poland.

"But we have had a fantastic week and it's going to make for a good game.

"There's a great energy around. The lads are trying to impress the new management and everybody is trying to show what they can do to get into the side."

Press Association

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