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Friday 9 December 2016

Forde focus on cup run

Walsall’s Irish star Anthony Forde (r) is hoping for further progress in the FA Cup when they visit Reading for today’s fourth round tie Photo: Tim Sturgess/ Express and Star
Walsall’s Irish star Anthony Forde (r) is hoping for further progress in the FA Cup when they visit Reading for today’s fourth round tie Photo: Tim Sturgess/ Express and Star

A run of games in the Premier League as a teenager and an appearance at Wembley has given Anthony Forde a taste of the high life in football across the water.

And the current form of the Limerick-born player, and his club Walsall, breeds hope that some days out on the big stage could come his way again. Today, League One side Walsall take on Championship outfit Reading in a bid to progress to the next round of the FA Cup, but the Saddlers have already accounted for a team from a higher league this season, beating Brentford in the last round, and there's hope around the midlands club that this Cup run could run and run.

"I have been to Wembley before so I'd love to get back there again," says Forde ahead of his side's trip to Reading today.

"We were there for the Johnstone Paints Trophy final last year, even though we lost, it was still some experience to play in front of 70,000 people. I would just love to play there and win, maybe in the FA Cup if we can get as far as the semis.

"I know we're a long way away but there's no reason why we can't go on a run. We draw confidence from the fact that we've already beaten a Championship team in this competition, and we also beat Championship teams (Nottingham Forest and Brighton) in the League Cup.

"It can be hard to step up to another level, we know that from this season," he added, referring to a 4-1 loss to Chelsea in the League Cup. "But on our day I'd fancy us against almost anyone, Reading today is a big ask as they have international players, but I know how good we are, and I've already taken lessons from those cup games."

The move to Walsall from Wolves in 2014 has worked out well for the former U21 cap, his side currently third in the League One table, only four points off top spot. "I'm playing games, the team are doing well, we're still in the Cup and have a good chance of promotion so it's a good place to be," he says.

Still only 22, Forde has amassed a great deal of experience as this is his fifth season in first-team football.

He made six Premier League appearances for Wolves in the 2011/12 season and he still hold the record of being the last Irish-born player to appear in England's top flight as a teenager.

"I want to get back there, I want to play at the highest level possible and I'd love to play for the Irish senior side some day," says Forde. "Walsall's been good for me, hopefully there's a Cup run and promotion to come this season."

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