Forde In The Fast Lane?

David Forde has set his sights on breaking into Eire's World Cup squad for 2006.

The young goalkeeper, who joined from Barry Town last season, has enjoyed watching his country's exploits in the competition this summer - and wants a taste of the action himself.

"It was an unbelievable campaign and the whole country has been buzzing; it was a great tournament," he says from Galway.

"Mick is not afraid to give the young lads a chance, like Steven Reid, Rob Keane, and Damian Duff.

"And a couple of Ireland's goalkeepers are getting on - Gary Kelly is close to retirement and Dean Kiely is old as well, but Shay Given was fantastic, though.

"Hopefully if I do well with West Ham I will hopefully get noticed and I can get involved with the Irish squad.

"If I work hard enough and put my mind to it - and get a bit of luck - you never know what might happen.

"I will be 26 at the next World Cup, the age of Shay Given, and it is not a bad age to be.

"But my first target is to get involved with the squad at West Ham, on the bench or something, then you set your goals and aims from there, and the first one is to get in the first team at West Ham.

"Then you look to get involved in the Irish squad - everyone's dream is to play for their country."

David, who had an operation at the end of the season, faces his first full campaign for the Hammers - and can't wait for it to start.

"I had a little operation on my elbow just to clean it up," he says, "but I will be okay for preseason and I have been doing a bit of work in Ireland over the summer so I am in good shape.

"This preseason will tell a big story, so fingers crossed it will go well, and that my elbow has healed.

"I am actually looking quite forward to it; I like a good challenge and you also need a bit of luck, so hopefully it will go well for me."

He is making no rash predictions about how far, and how fast, he can progress, but with Sven Andersson, Shaka Hislop, and Craig Forrest no longer at the club, he is, for the moment at least, the third most experienced stopper after David James and Steve Bywater.

"We will see how it goes; I hope something might happen for me," he says, "and I enjoyed playing the seven or eight games I managed in the reserves last season.

"I felt I did well in those matches and I hope I can push for a place in the squad.

"As for Steve, he is a good mate of mine; we get on well, but everyone is competing for one place, really, and you just have to see how it goes.

"Your aim is to get in the squad and then push for a place on the bench, then you never know what might happen to David, and you might get a shock starting place."

David admits to surprise that his senior colleague did not add to his collection of caps in the World Cup, and explains:

"I was disappointed David didn't get in the team because I thought he would actually start, but he is still young as a goalkeeper and it looks like Dave Seaman could be on the way out."

TV pundits on Tuesday, looking to the future of England's goalkeeping situation, said that Nigel Martyn and David James are "no spring chickens" but David counters:

"David James is only 30 and Seaman is 38, so I think the door is open for David James, who maybe has eight years of international football ahead of him - which is a long time."

As for the strike that beat Seaman to eliminate England from the World Cup, he adds:

"It was just one of those freak goals, and if he did mean it I don't think he could do it again if he stayed there all day.

"It was unlucky for England, because I thought they would go on to win the World Cup, especially as so many of the other big teams went out."

As for the Roy Keane saga that preceded Ireland's World Cup campaign, David adds:

"It is fine over here; it has quietened down a lot but in the first week or two it was massive, on every radio station and bit of telly.

"It was crazy, getting out of hand, but with the team doing so well it quietened it down.

"There are two sides to every story and I don't think we will ever know what really happened."