Forde looking after No 1 spot

Scarcely could David Forde have realised at the start of the season he’d be heading into the critical stage of Ireland’s World Cup qualification campaign as first-choice goalkeeper.

A clean sheet for the stopper in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Poland only reinforced the notion he’ll be handed his first competitive action on March 22 when Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sweden await in Stockholm.

“I never thought Shay Given would retire after the Euros because he’s been such a legend for the country,” said Forde after winning only his fourth senior cap. “I’d watched Shay and idolised him so it was fantastic to even work with him.

“But the manager turning around and giving me the start against Poland was great for my own confidence. I’ll take that has a compliment and a massive slap on the back. He’s shown that faith in me and I just hope that I can repay it.

“Bar a couple of poor kickouts, I was pleased with the performance. It’s a big result for us; it wasn’t the best first half but we managed to grind it out and we put it a very good second half display which puts us in good stead for Sweden.

“I’ve managed to get a lucky break and Keiren has been unfortunate. We’re good friends off the pitch and I’m disappointed for him but, look, that’s football. And, to be fair, he’s supporting me all the way as I’d do the same for him.”

Another player looking to use his second outing on the trot to justify his inclusion against the Swedes is defender Ciarán Clark. Continued doubts over the fitness of his Aston Villa colleague Richard Dunne put him in pole position to get the nod from Trapattoni.

“There is a lot of competition for places in the squad now but I hope I’ve done enough. I’m sure Richard won’t be too long in getting back to fitness but we’ll have to wait and see.”

Injured left-back Marc Wilson has confirmed that he is on course to be fit for next month’s crucial World Cup qualifiers.

Wilson, 25, was poised to make Ireland’s left-back berth his own before his career was put on hold last October when he broke his leg in Stoke City’s goalless draw against Sunderland.

Wilson said: “I don’t want to put an exact time scale on things, because these sort of injuries have to be managed properly.

“But if all goes well then I could be back within a few weeks. If that is the case then that would be absolutely fantastic.”

Picture: SPORTSFILE

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