Forde displaces Westwood as Sammon ready for big leap

Andrews: won nine caps in 2012, starting seven games.

Andrews: won nine caps in 2012, starting seven games.

Mon, Feb 4, 2013, 00:00

David Forde is set to start in goal for the Republic of Ireland against Poland on Wednesday night and Giovanni Trapattoni suggested yesterday that he will stick with the Millwall player as his number one for the World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria next month because he is playing regular first-team football.

The Italian, who again indicated that he is happy enough to get along without Shay Given, said that he rates Keiren Westwood highly but that the 28-year-old needs to be playing regularly again if he wants to be the Irish number one.

“Hopefully, in the future he will have the chance to play but if the manager continued to pick Mignolet then I told him that it would be good if he could change clubs,” said Trapattoni. “But with Forde, with him and with Henderson we will be okay.”

Forde has made just four appearances in an Ireland shirt but has firmly re-established himself as first choice goalkeeper at Millwall after a spell out of the team due to injury and loss of form. It is that regular first-team football, says Trapattoni, that gives him an edge.

Delicate position

“Both goalkeepers are similar,” said the 73-year-old, “One is perhaps a little stronger, the other more elastic but it is important to give Forde the opportunity. Usually, as you know, I don’t worry about whether a player who is his 20s plays or not, but for the goalkeeper it is particularly delicate position.

“It is more difficult psychologically when they don’t play a lot of games.”

The manager will have to change his plans in other areas of the pitch, meanwhile, after the loss due to injury of Anthony Pilkington and Aiden McGeady. He expressed particular regret that he would not be able to give the Norwich City winger his senior international debut but suggested that he could still be involved in the qualifying games if he recovers from his hamstring strain.

His intention, he said, had been to play Pilkington and Conor Sammon to see how the pair worked together. The Derby striker still looks to be on course to complete his remarkable rise in a career that started as schoolboy in Malahide, at the club whose ground the Irish squad trained on yesterday.

“I trained here and played a few games before this development was created. So, yeah, it feels quite familiar to be here,” said Sammon.

Even at that stage, however, not everyone saw Sammon’s potential. He cites one of his coaches at the club, Charlie Hendrick, as a key influence because he helped pick him up after he had been told he was not good enough for a particular team. Instead of heading away, the Dubliner played for Cherry Orchard before signing up for a soccer scholarship with UCD and taking a job in the bank. However, he was always confident he would get the break he needed. In his case, it was the initial chance to go full-time with Derry City. Spells in the SPL and Premier League followed with Kilmarnock and Wigan respectively but Sammon is happy where he is now, working for a manager, Nigeg Clough, he knows believes in him.

Great encouragement

“He’s done a lot for me,” he said. “He chased me when I was at Kilmarnock and then at Wigan he came in for me again. I’ve built up a really good relationship with him, he’s very good with the squad. We’re a young bunch. He gives us great advice and encouragement

“It makes it easy when you know a manager has that kind of belief and is quite keen on you. Thats what I was looking for, to play week in week out for a manager that has a lot of belief in me and gives me opportunities. I’m improving as a player and delighted to get the opportunity to play week in week out and hopefully get a chance to play on Wednesday.”

Top cap Andrews named senior international player of the year

Bolton Wanderers midfielder Keith Andrews was last night named as the 3/FAI Senior International Player of the Year for 2012. The 32-year-old made nine appearances for his country over the course of the year, starting seven games including all of the group outings at the European Championships.

James McCarthy beat off competition from Robbie Brady to pick up the young player award but the Hull City player won in the under-21 category.

Senior Player: Keith Andrews (Bolton Wanderers), Young Player: James McCarthy (Wigan), Under-21: Robbie Brady (Hull City), Airtricity League: Jason McGuinness (Shamrock Rovers), Senior Women: Emma Byrne (Arsenal), International Goal: Kevin Doyle (V Kazakhstan), Under-19. Men: Anthony Forde (Wolves); Women: Emma Hansberry (Castlebar Celtic); Under-17. Men: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Women: Lauren Dwyer (Wexford Youths); Under-16: Noe Baba (Fulham); Under-15: James Talbot (Home Farm); Junior: Adrian Walsh (Carrick United); Inter David O’Sullivan (Wayside Celtic); Football for All: Davy Byrne (Irish Homeless World Cup); Schools: Sean Maguire (CBS Kilkenny). Hall of Fame: Kevin Sheedy; International Personality: Zbigniew Boniek.

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