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Westwood's chance as Mignolet signs for Liverpool


Keiren Westwood. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Keiren Westwood. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Keiren Westwood. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

KEIREN WESTWOOD will begin pre-season training determined to re-establish himself as number one for Sunderland and the Republic of Ireland.

The 28-year-old goalkeeper endured a miserable 2012-13 campaign as his lack of club action – he made just three appearances for the Black Cats – cost him his place in Giovanni Trapattoni's starting XI, but he will be boosted by news of rival Simon Mignolet's £11m departure to Liverpool.

The Belgium international last night completed his move from Sunderland after putting pen to paper on a long-term contract, and he is set to battle against Reina and Brad Jones for a starting berth at Anfield

Sunderland have been linked with PSV Eindhoven's Holland Under-21 international Jeoren Zoet, but Westwood's experience has put him at the head of the queue as manager Paolo Di Canio overhauls his squad.

Westwood's misfortune on Wearside did not initially affect him for Ireland, where he was chosen as the natural successor to Shay Given when he announced his retirement from Ireland duty after the Euro 2012 finals.

He started World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan, Germany and the Faroe Islands before Trapattoni decided he needed his first-choice goalkeeper to be playing regularly.

As a result, Millwall's David Forde got the nod for November's friendly against Greece and has started six of the seven games since, with Westwood earning a rare opportunity in the 4-0 friendly victory over Georgia in June.

It was after that appearance he said he may have to look for another club after seeing his hopes of a loan move in January come to nothing.

He said: "I love it at Sunderland, but if I'm not going to play ... It's a tough decision, but I need to play football, I think that's evident in itself."

Mignolet, meanwhile, is looking forward to the challenge of trying to supplant Reina as the Reds' number one.

"It's a challenge, but that's what you want. You want to play in the big games, you want to play for a big club and to play with pressure," said Mignolet.

"I'm very confident in myself and my own abilities and I can't wait to get the first clean sheet under my belt," he added.