Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Forde is ready - Kelly

David Forde is set to start for Ireland on Friday

David Forde is ready to take his big chance as he prepares to make his competitive debut for Ireland, according to goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly.

Kelly, a former international goalkeeper, has seen the 33-year-old Millwall stopper edge ahead of Sunderland's Keiren Westwood in the battle to become Shay Given's long-term replacement. Forde seems likely to get the nod for Friday night's World Cup qualifier in Sweden, winning his sixth senior cap, but his first in a game in which points are at stake.

Asked if the former League of Ireland player was ready for the challenge, Kelly said: "Absolutely."

He went on: "You just have to see the way he holds himself now. He's standing tall - he's a big lad anyway, but he's doing well for Millwall, playing week in week out.

"He's got to the semi-final of the FA Cup, he's in form and what an opportunity now at 33.

"He's come through the ranks, played in the League of Ireland and now he's going to be playing in a World Cup qualifier, so it's a fantastic story and a fantastic tribute to his abilities.

"It shows what you can overcome, that if you keep working hard, this is where it can get you. He's done it."

Westwood was manager Giovanni Trapattoni's initial choice to replace Given when he announced his retirement from international football in the wake of a disappointing Euro 2012 finals campaign.

However, his lack of regular football for Sunderland, where Belgium international Simon Mignolet's form has been excellent, became a concern and the Italian turned to Forde for the November friendly against Greece and last month's 2-0 win over Poland.

Asked if Forde could make the place his own, Kelly said: "Well, he's there on merit. The one thing I would say about David is that the amount of work he puts in on the training ground is incredible. But he's taken a real step and shown that if you put that work into your game on the training pitch, then you get the rewards. That's what we are seeing now."

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