Friday 15 December 2017

Forde's focus is on France

David Forde hopes to regain first-choice status after abscence for both club and country
David Forde hopes to regain first-choice status after abscence for both club and country

There's no first-team football, but at the same time no panic, for David Forde as the Galway native remains hopeful that he can win back the title of Ireland's No. 1 goalkeeper in time for Euro 2016.

Twelve months ago, things were looking good for Forde, who started in goal for Ireland in a fine opening to the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign (wins over Georgia and Gibraltar and an impressive draw away to Germany) and he was also first-choice 'keeper at his club.

A year later and Forde has had to deal with being shunted down the ladder. Dropped by Millwall after conceding four goals in two games at the start of the season, he's been out of the Lions side since August (bar a run-out in a cup game). He's also out of favour at international level, evidence in the fact that Martin O'Neill turned to the relatively inexperienced Darren Randolph to replace the injured Shay Given at home to Germany last month, Randolph then holding onto the jersey for the trip to Poland and the play-off battles with Bosnia.

So Forde's last sighting in an Ireland shirt was when he started in the disappointing defeat in Scotland a year ago.

The lack of first-team games at Millwall will not help his cause, especially as both Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane have warned those Irish players out of favour at their clubs, like Aiden McGeady, Stephen Ward and Alex Pearce that they need to rectify their situation to remain in contention for France.

But the 35-year-old is adamant that he will be back in the Irish side, and he remains convinced that the door to opportunity will open up again, with club and country.

"I have a huge hunger to get back playing, and once I get that opportunity I know I will be in the right mindset," Forde told The Herald.

"I am just working hard at the moment and waiting for my chance to come again, I know it will come so all I can do is work as hard as possible until that opportunity comes again. I'm not getting too caught up in the situation, the Euros are still seven months away and a lot can happen in that time, I know that from this time last year, going from the position I was in 12 months ago to where I am now, things can happen and change.

"I just need to be fit and sharp for the time I am back playing for Millwall.

"It has been frustrating, but I have had a chance to reflect on what's currently going on in my career. That is an opportunity in itself, this is the first time in the last few years that I have had a break, had a chance to refresh physically and mentally, it's given me the chance to regroup and focus.

"It's also given me the chance to think about the future and I'm looking at a few options, I'm in the process of writing a book on my career so far and the journey I had," added Forde.

"I had some offers in the summer but there was nothing there to entice me away from Millwall, I love it here at Millwall, and I decided to stay," he says. "I firmly believe I can get back in the side here at Millwall, I just need that to happen."


An unused sub for the last 10 internationals, Forde was still part of the build-up to the play-off matches against Bosnia and the celebrations that flowed.

"It was a great experience against Bosnia. You have to look at the campaign as a whole and everybody played a part along the way, different people made big contributions, there's a special bond in the group and it's a fantastic achievement to have qualified from our group.

"I am a proud Irishman and I am proud of my part in qualification," says Forde, keen to avoid a repeat of 2012, where an Ireland side which looked over-trained and tired flopped.

"You learn all the time, and we did make mistakes back in 2012, maybe fatigue had set in, but you also have to acknowledge that we were in a very tough group, there were a lot of factors in 2012. There's a lot of football to be played between now and June," added Forde.

Unless things change at club level, Forde will be one of two Irishmen from Millwall heading to France next summer as Lions team-mate Shane Ferguson, a Derry lad on loan from Newcastle, is likely to travel with Northern Ireland. But Forde also sees potential in U21 cap Aiden O'Brien, Millwall's leading scorer this season.

"He has really come good in the last while, he has a lot of potential. We all know that having potential and fulfilling it are two different things but Aiden has a real chance, the manager has shown a lot of faith in him and that's shown in his form, he is one for the future," says Forde.

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