Forde focuses on Euro 2016 campaign

11 June 2014 10:16

David Forde has urged his Republic of Ireland team-mates to put their drubbing by Portugal behind them as they focus on the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

The Republic ended their summer fixtures with a 5-1 demolition job at the hands of the Portuguese in New Jersey as injuries and withdrawals took their toll on Martin O'Neill's squad.

Defeat meant Ireland's four end-of-season fixtures failed to yield a single victory, although both O'Neill and many of his players have voiced the opinion that Turkey, Italy and Costa Rica might have been beaten.

However, those games and their results will be long-forgotten when they reconvene in September ahead of their opening qualifier in Georgia.

Forde said: "They are a top side a top nation - they will probably be quarter-finalists, semi-finalists, without a doubt. They have got the best player in the world.

"That's what you are up against. We always knew it was going to be a very difficult task, playing Portugal. It was like a home game for them.

"But the main thing for us now is to concentrate on September and put that behind us.

"The lads have shown great commitment and great dedication to come in for the three and a half weeks. It shows that that is there and we have just got to move on now."

Forde was beaten three times inside the opening 37 minutes as Portugal, boosted by the presence of fit-again captain Cristiano Ronaldo, demonstrated their readiness for the World Cup in their final warm-up game.

They proved simply too hot to handle with striker Hugo Almeida finding the back of the net twice either side of the unfortunate Richard Keogh's own goal.

Forde, 34, said: "Sometimes those nights happen, and that was one of those nights. On the other hand, they are going to a World Cup as well and they were at it.

"We are at the end of an arduous, very tough season, so it was always going to be a difficult game, with a lot of travel thrown in there as well.

"It's disappointing, but the main thing is that we have got some good work done and there were a lot of positives to take from the Italy game."

That game finished 0-0, but any hope of a repeat was blown out of the water when Almeida struck with just two minutes gone to set the stage for a dominant first-half display by Paulo Bento's men.

James McClean's first senior goal for Ireland seven minutes after the break gave them hope of an unlikely fightback, but substitute Vierinha and full-back Fabio Coentrao killed off that possibility.

Forde said: "The scary thing is in football, you never actually know. Even at 3-0 at half-time, we pulled that goal back and made it 3-1 and we had a couple of chances.

"If we take another chance, it's 3-2 and all of a sudden, it's a different game.

"But unfortuately, there were a few injuries. It's that time of the year that a few lads have picked up injuries, so we were down to the bare bones defending-wise."

O'Neill consciously chose opposition in the four games which would test both the quality and depth of his squad, and he headed back across the Atlantic with a useful dossier.

He said: "We have had the four games - each one of them in their own way was a big test for us, which I felt they would be from the start.

"We have had players who have had opportunities afforded to them. Fine. But you've got to find the things out.

"Now, when we step into the European Championships in September-time, I have to know as I can about the players who will be representing us at that stage.

"That's exactly what I found out last night, and from the whole trip.

"We have a number of players pretty well certain to play, injury apart, but there are positions up for grabs. That's been proved here.

"You talk about strength of squad - we would like it to be stronger, but we can't just invent players.

"We will have a look, but I don't see at this minute us being able to make that many changes. But there are one or two things I can look at between now and September."

Source: PA