David Forde in no hurry to surrender his number one jersey to Keiren Westwood
Ireland’s number one is looking forward to working with goalkeeping coach Séamus McDonagh
Republic of Ireland goalkeeping coach Séamus McDonagh and David Forde work out at Gannon Park in Malahide on Saturday ahead of the Poland friendly. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Having waited so long to get the Irish goalkeeper’s jersey, David Forde is no hurry to surrender it again but the 33-year-old knows he has a fight on his hands to keep Keiren Westwood at bay, something that was emphasised on Friday night by Martin O’Neill’s decision to start the Sunderland player at the Galwayman’s expense.
O’Neill had indicated that each would get to start one game so Forde was not put out. The question remains, however, as to how much the new manager could possibly have learned about Westwood’s current capabilities when he had nothing at all to do against Latvia and how he might interpret Forde having a more difficult time tomorrow against a Polish side that includes one of Europe’s best strikers.
“There is still a lot of time for the manager,” says the 33-year-old, as he ponders O’Neill’s assessment process.
“It’s early doors and he’s trying to figure out what’s what. We are all trying to prove ourselves to the new management and it’s an important time.
‘Really good side’
“Poland are a really good side. They have [Robert] Lewandowski and some top players. They were unlucky, like us, not to qualify so it should be an interesting game.”
It’s questionable, in fact, just how unlucky either the Republic of Ireland or Poland were not to qualify. Both finished fourth in their respective groups and neither could win a single one of the six games played against the three sides that finished above them in the qualification table.
Forde, though, can be forgiven for taking an overly positive view of Ireland’s campaign given that, on the one hand, it was the first in which he was played and, on the other, the quality of a couple of his displays.
“I’m very happy with my performances and hope they continue to get better,” he says. “But look, football is funny and that is in the past. I don’t look at it anymore; the next game for me is what I concentrate on, that’s what I am focused on.
“I think in every game, not just this game, you are playing for your national side and there are no ‘gimmes’, at this level. In every game you are on show and you have got to show what you can do.
“It’s about keeping your standards high and hopefully I can control what I do and do what I do best. Hopefully, that’s enough and the manager is happy with my performance.”
That said, the former Galway United and Derry City star, who has been reported lately to be on the verge of signing a new deal at Millwall but who says the talks are still ongoing, is clearly hoping that O’Neill and his assistant will be impressed by the reruns they watch of some of his 15 games to date and take those into account.
Germany in Cologne last month was arguably his best outing for his country to date and a strong performance against Poland would surely strengthen his hold on the jersey.
“Nothing’s been said as it’s the same for everybody but they [O’Neill and Roy Keane] are in the game a long time and I’m sure they will assess what has gone on previously. It’s their decision but at the end of the day I know what I have done for the side over the last year or so,” says Forde.
From his particular point of view the biggest change this week has been working with Séamus McDonagh rather than Alan Kelly, who had always been enormously positive about Forde’s abilities. But the player, like his team-mates, accepts that change is part of the game and insists he’s happy to be exposed to a new man with new methods.
“Séamus has been great,” he says. “Like all goalkeeping coaches, he has his own ideas - different things and different opinions and ideas on goalkeeping.
“You always learn something different and that has been important to me over the last few years.
“Now it’s Séamus and I am looking forward to learning extra off him to improve me as a keeper. He has worked with some top-class keepers down through the years and it can only be great for my development . . . hopefully.”