Wednesday 21 February 2018

Confident Forde can step up to the mark – Kelly

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

IRELAND goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly believes that David Forde's life experience will make him more than capable of coping with the pressure of his competitive debut on Friday night.

The 33-year-old has been promoted ahead of Keiren Westwood due to the latter's lack of first-team action at Sunderland, and Giovanni Trapattoni has decided to stick with the Galwegian instead of recalling Shay Given.

Forde faces a major test in Stockholm, but Kelly feels that the player's strength of character will see him through, referencing the highs and lows that he has tasted before reaching this stage.

"Experience," responded Kelly (right), when asked about Forde's biggest strengths. "I don't just mean on the pitch but in life, getting knock backs, appreciating what you have at the right times. He definitely has that. He's a good communicator and has a great work-ethic.

"It has all come together at the right time and in the right place and he's there on merit now."

Although Forde has always had faith in his own ability, Kelly has noted his current confidence, believing that a good run of form at club level with Millwall and the full support of Trapattoni has put a spring in his step.

"He's kept three clean sheets in his last three games and he's won a spot in the FA Cup semi-final and a Wembley appearance," said Kelly.

"David is an absolute gentleman and one of the hardest working goalkeepers I have worked with, he's always looking to improve.

"He really has come through the ranks in the League of Ireland and then back and forward over the water – he has really served his apprenticeship. I look at him now and I'm seeing him believe now. He is a big lad and his stature has grown in these two weeks. He believes this is his stage and this is his time. To have that mindset and faith in your ability gives you confidence going into the game."

Forde did struggle with his kicking in the early stages of last month's friendly with Poland, but Kelly shrugged off that as a possible concern. "It's something you work on in training," he said. "David would be the first to come over and say, 'I did this and that'. You go over it and put a train of thought in a player's mind so when it comes to the next time they don't have negative thoughts."

A more pressing concern will be the decision over whether the game is played under a roof.

The temperature on Friday night is forecast at -8C but if the retractable roof is utilised then the temperature inside will be 15 degrees. That will mean a difference in the speed and flight of the ball and, in an ideal world, Kelly would like clarity before tomorrow evening's training session at the Friends Arena; an official call will be made on Friday morning.

"Heat matters because of what it does to the speed of the ball," said Kelly. "Hopefully it will be open, freezing cold and go a little bit slower. In a game like that, your concentration is so much that the last thing you'd be worrying about is the cold."

Irish Independent

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