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Doubt surrounds Forde's fitness ahead of Faroes visit

Goalkeeper David Forde is expected to return to full training tomorrow with Keiren Westwood and Darren Randolph waiting in the wings if needed.

Thumbs up: Ireland goalkeeper David Forde trained alone today.
Thumbs up: Ireland goalkeeper David Forde trained alone today.
Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

DAVID FORDE IS Ireland’s main injury doubt ahead of the World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands.

The goalkeeper was one of the stars of the Wembley draw against England last week but he now faces a race against the clock to be ready for the Aviva Stadium clash on Friday night.

With Marc Wilson and Richard Dunne both returning to full training in Malahide today, an ongoing calf problem prevented Forde from taking part though he did do some gym work as well as a light pitch session with goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly.

As things stand he is expected to return tomorrow but any further delay could leave manager Giovanni Trapattoni with an unpleasant selection headache when he names his team tomorrow afternoon.

“I’d be a clairvoyant if I could look into the future and tell you that it’s going to be right after that training session,” Kelly smiled today.

“We won’t know until the medical people have assessed him but the fact that he has come so far in his rehab and that he has overcome every step so far to the point where he’s coming back into full training, and we will do a full training session tomorrow, that’s the best we could have hoped for.

“The medical staff are happy, I’m happy, and we’ll assess it after that.”

Marc Wilson gets acquainted with the goalpost (©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)

Although Sunday’s clean sheet against Georgia was only Forde’s eighth international cap, the Millwall stopper has made the position his own since displacing the out-of-favour Keiren Westwood last winter. Even with so many missed training sessions this week, Kelly has no doubts about his ability to cope if he starts on Friday.

You look at how confident the lad is now. He’s a huge fella in terms of his physique and stature and he just seems to have grown even more.

It’s a great credit to him that he has stepped up to the plate and taken everything on board both physically and psychologically. The game against England, in particular, was a result of that and his family can be very proud of him.

If Forde fails to recover, Westwood seems the likely choice to stand in despite the fact that he only made three Capital One Cup appearances for Sunderland in the whole of last season.

Trapattoni has previously nudged his number two towards a transfer in the hope of getting more first-team action but Kelly refused to get involved in club-v-country politics.

“As I said to him, you can only keep preparing, you can only keep training, you can only keep yourself ready. You have to get yourself right mentally and physically just in case something happens, to be able to say to the manager I’m right if I’m called up and ready to perform.

“In terms of the politics of whether he has to move, I wouldn’t get involved in that. That’s between Keiren and the club and that’s how it should be. I’m not going to tell Paolo di Canio how to do his job and he’s not going to tell me how to be a goalkeeping coach.”

The squad take a break in the sun (©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)

He added: “The ethic that we’ve always had as keepers, particularly here with Ireland, is that you back them up. You don’t let your standards drop because if you do that, you’re not helping your fellow goalkeeper who is going to perform for your country in that particular game to do his best. That’s the mantra that I always teach here.

“Yes, you can come in with disappointment but I’ll put the sessions on, I’ll make sure that you tick every box that you need to perform if called upon. As long as I do that and get them in that frame of mind then I’m happy.”

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Niall Kelly

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