Saturday 19 October 2019

Westwood will be given chance to stake claim

Keiren Westwood now injury free. Photo: Sportsfile
Keiren Westwood now injury free. Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon

Mick McCarthy has told Keiren Westwood that he will get his chance to become his country's No 1 goalkeeper again under his second tenure as Ireland boss.

The 34-year-old last enjoyed that status for a brief period following Shay Given's retirement in 2012 but it lasted only three games, including the 6-1 home mauling by Germany.

He's not played a competitive game for Ireland since, just a few friendly outings during his old Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill's reign, which brought his caps total to a measly 21.

Westwood, however, is now injury free and a regular for Championship club Sheffield Wednesday, conceding just once in his last eight league games up until yesterday, when he conceded a brace in a 4-2 win against Blackburn Rovers.

McCarthy, ahead of his first match back at the helm against Gibraltar in Sunday's opening Euro 2020 qualifier, insists the veteran is in contention to displace O'Neill favourite Darren Randolph.

"I can't guarantee anyone a position," said McCarthy as his first squad assemble at the Castleknock Hotel today. "I have to consider performances of players from the last campaign and, to be fair, Darren played well. I can't dismiss that.

"But I also have to give Westy an opportunity to come in and have a chance of playing. I can't just be narrowing down positions, as I said about Séamus Coleman.

"I've always liked Westy as a goalkeeper. They've gone 10 games unbeaten under Steve Bruce and he's playing well."

Meanwhile, McCarthy doesn't believe Patrick Bamford's decision to delay his international switch indicates he's holding out for a senior call from England.

Only recently, the Leeds striker apparently messaged McCarthy to confirm he was defecting from his homeland of England.

Then came the familiar and ominous excuse of him wanting to concentrate on his club career. Should Leeds clinch promotion, the prospects of being requested by Gareth Southgate to resume his England career increase.

"He's not reconsidering," said McCarthy. "I don't get a sense of that. It's not the first time that I've seen it with players who want to concentrate on scoring goals for their club. He's doing his stuff and anything else can distract them.

"I'm disappointed because he's a really good striker who would score goals for us. However, I kind of get it as well. Bearing in mind Leeds are on course for promotion, anything else could be going around in his head.

"He couldn't play for us anyway till June so maybe I'll get my successor Stephen Kenny a good striker."

Sunday Indo Sport

The Left Wing - RWC Daily: End of an era as Ireland say sayonara to World Cup

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport