Sheffield Wednesday: Keiren Westwood targets Republic of Ireland No 1 spot
Keiren Westwood has set his sights on becoming the Republic of Ireland's number one as they prepare for tonight's World Cup qualifier in Serbia.
The Owls goalkeeper made his first Republic start in over a year in their 4-0 friendly win at home to Oman last week. It was the 31-year-old’s 19th international cap.
But despite excelling for Wednesday over the last two seasons, Westwood has largely played provided back-up to David Forde, Shay Given and Darren Randolph.
It may well be Randolph who gets the nod in between the sticks for the Republic’s clash at the Rajko Mitic Stadium.
Speaking to the Daily Star, Westwood said: “I am just happy to be involved now and the aim is to get in ahead of Darren Randloph. If it was the other way around, I am sure it would be Darren’s aim, too. But remember, it’s not just me and Darren.
“There are a few keepers vying for that shirt but the fact is it belongs to Darren at the moment. But he knows, because we are really good pals, that I am breathing down his neck.
“Any footballer will tell you that they want to play matches. I am no different because I am conscious of the fact that before I know it my career could be over – you want to be in a position whereby you can look back on your career and see how many games you have played in. You’re not in the game to be a squad player.
“I’m thrilled with how things are going for me at club level with Wednesday and I have been in and around the Ireland squad for a good few years now, too.”
Although Westwood was included in the Republic’s European Championships squad over the summer, there has been talk of a fall-out between him and boss Martin O’Neill.
But Westwood insists he has no axe to grind with the former Leicester City and Aston Villa chief.
He said: “I don’t know why I was out of favour for a spell. The manager makes his decisions and I stick by them.
“I am a grown man and if you don’t get picked then, like anyone else, I try my damnedest to get back in.
“I was delighted to get picked. I worked really hard.
“The manager has said he knows what I can do, he has put his faith in me and put me in the squad.
“We haven’t had any difficulties between us.
“If other people had a look at the Ireland squad and saw I was playing club football but wasn’t being called up, perhaps they put two and two together and got six.”