KEIREN WESTWOOD will be back in action before the end of this season, according to his team-mate with club and country John O'Shea.
Westwood, 29, has not played at all since Ireland's win over Latvia in November and a shoulder injury which he picked up in January threatened to end his season.
But O'Shea says that the keeper is almost ready to resume training with Sunderland and that could see Westwood regain fitness in time for Ireland's programme of friendly games in May and June.
"I think he's about two weeks away from full training again. I think everything went well with the shoulder," said O'Shea.
"Obviously for goalkeepers in particular, the shoulder is very important, so he has had to be careful with it," he added.
"But he is working very hard on his rehab and he is not too far now. He is obviously hoping to be involved in the games during the summer."
Westwood established himself as first-choice keeper with Ireland following Shay Given's retirement, but lost his place soon after the 6-1 defeat to Germany in the World Cup qualifiers. David Forde has started in 13 of the last 16 internationals.