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Football: REIDY,WILLING & ABLE; Forest ace set to wing his way into Kerr's Euro qualfying plans.

Byline: Garry DOYLE

ANDY REID knows he is on the verge of an international call up. Brian Kerr has told him so. For Reid, whose form for Nottingham Forest this season has won him plenty of accolades, this compliment was the nicest paid to him yet.

With Ireland top heavy in the left-sided department, Reid has stepped ahead of Mark Kennedy and into contention for an international debut. This week he was on standby for the Australian match but wasn't needed.

His day will come - and soon. "What he has," says Kerr, "is the ability to pick out a killer pass. Very few players can do that but Andy's quality allows him to try something special and pull it off." Kerr has been watching Reid's passing for nearly six years now, seeing enough in the Dubliner's ability as a 15-year-old to pick him in the Under 16 side that went onto win the 1998 European championships.

Much has happened since. Reid is 21, has 84 first team appearances for Forest under his belt, and last season won a new three- year-contract.

His current form is dynamic, best illustrated two weeks ago when, in front of Kerr, he won the man-of-the-match award and created both of Forest's goals in their 2-0 win against Sunderland. Four days later Paul Hart called him into his office and said - "Ireland have you on standby. Interested?""Nothing interests me more," says Reid. "As a kid I dreamed of playing for my country. Now I've been lucky enough to do that at various underage levels but you want to do it as a senior.

"And I'd like to feel I deserve a shot at it. I'm patient and appreciate the quality that is ahead of me but I've a fair amount of confidence in my ability. "If I'm doing well then I'd hope I will get a chance."He has been doing well since last December, when Hart decided it was time to give Reid an extended run in his first team.

A month later in the FA Cup against West Ham, Reid scored a sensational volley to provide a snapshot of what lies ahead. Since then he has been flying. "I'm happy with how I'm playing but the important thing is that Paul Hart is happy. "The biggest complement paid to me was when he gave me the number seven shirt at the start of this season. That suggested that he sees me as a permanent fixture.

"I've an awful lot of time for Paul. He's been good to me since I first came over here. "I was 15 when I left home. Looking back I can see thatit was way too young but Paul, who was in charge of the youth team then, always sent us home for a day or too when we were homesick. "With Paul, you know where you stand.

If you step out of line, he will let you know about it. But do what he wants and he looks after you." Reid has been doing exactly what Hart wants since last December. Before then his form was inconsistent, mirroring Forest's. Looking back he sees why. Having made his debut as an 18-year-old, he realises that stepping from a boy's to a man's world would take time.

"It took a while for me to get used to the level I was playing at, so last summer I worked harder than ever to get my fitness right.

"And by the time the season started I was raring to go. I had to wait until December to get my chance but once I got it, there was no way I was going to let it slip by. "On top of that I have matured a lot too. My form has been good but it is only because I have learned a lot about the game and have listened to people.

"I've still a lot to learn. I've only just turned 21, and there is a fair degree to find out. "I suppose the difference now is that I see the value of listening now more than I would have done before."

Certainly judging by his start to the season Reid has clearly benefited from this approach, and it shouldn't be long before the next manager he's listening to is Brian Kerr.

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FOREST FIRED-UP: Andy Reid's form for Nottingham Forest could win him a call into Brian Kerr's squad
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 22, 2003
Words:738
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