DAVID FORDE IS set to stake his claim to be Ireland number one.
With Kieren Westwood still unable to force his way into the Sunderland team, manager Giovanni Trapattoni indicated yesterday that he is ready to start the Galway stopper in Wednesday’s friendly against Poland.
Though he only has four caps at senior level Forde has made 26 starts for Millwall this season while Westwood, Trapattoni’s choice for the World Cup qualifiers last year, has played only three games in the Capital One Cup.
Speaking in Malahide today, assistant manager Marco Tardelli said that Forde was a “good option” for the Poland friendly and had no doubts about the 33-year-old’s experience.
I think Forde is a good goalkeeper. He played against Italy [his senior debut in June 2011] and to play against Italy is hard.
He played very well and has big experience. I don’t worry about the goalkeeper. I worry about Westwood because he’s not playing in his team.
Westwood was linked to a move away from the Stadium of Light during January’s transfer window and although manager Martin O’Neill decided to keep him as number two to Simon Mignolet, Tardelli believes a move would have been in the player’s best interests.
“He tried but O’Neill decided it was better if he stayed in Sunderland. We can’t decide, Giovanni can’t decide this. For me it was better but [it did] not happen.”
Hull City’s David Meyler returned home after failing to shake a knee injury while Shane Long and Ciaran Clark sat out this morning’s training session, though both are expected to be available for selection when Trapattoni names his team tomorrow.
A decision will be taken this afternoon if another player is to be called up in Meyler’s place and Tardelli revealed that Everton’s Darron Gibson, who made himself unavailable for Ireland duty last summer, was called this morning but declined to join up on fitness grounds.
One player who looks likely to feature at some stage on Wednesday is Bristol City left-back Greg Cunningham, who won the most recent of his three senior caps in a friendly against Norway in November 2010.
“He deserves to play because he started to play with us two years ago and after he had a little problem with his knee,” Tardelli said.
I saw him many times and he played well. If he’s fit, it’s possible he will play on Wednesday.
He is technically very good. He’s not strong physically but he’s very tough. He shoots very well. I think he’s good for us.
Tardelli also revealed that he was at Craven Cottage last week to watch defender Joey O’Brien in West Ham’s 3-1 defeat to Fulham. Though O’Brien is not in the squad this week, he is a “good option,” Tardelli said.
With four uncapped players — three of whom are from Derby County — in the reckoning for Wednesday, Tardelli was asked if this was a direct consequence of Trapattoni’s move to attend more cross-channel matches.
Although Richard Keogh, Jeff Hendrick and Conor Sammon were all handed international call-ups after Trapattoni went to two Derby league matches in January, Tardelli said nothing has changed.
“Giovanni saw many matches before the autumn. I also go to see Fulham, West Ham — many matches. I talk always with Giovanni and he knows the players very well.
“We prepare the match in the same way.”