Sheffield Wednesday: Why Owls keeper Keiren Westwood is the odd man out for Republic of Ireland
Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Keiren Westwood is widely regarded as one of the best in the Championship, and was last season voted as such by his peers.
However, on the international front, the Republic of Ireland man is continually overlooked, particularly by current manager Martin O’Neill.
It is a matter that has puzzled Wednesday fans, well used to seeing the former Sunderland keeper continually turn in impressive, match-winning performances ever since moving to Hillsborough at the start of last season.
When games for his country come up, though, Westwood is cast aside, with preference given first to veteran Shay Given, then David Forde of League One Millwall and now, Rob Elliot of Newcastle and West Ham’s Darren Randolph are apparently further up the pecking order.
O’Neill had initially named a 40 man squad for the upcoming friendlies with Switzerland and Slovakia and Westwood was included at that stage, but when the cut was made, the 18-times capped player was left out.
It would appear as though the Wednesday keeper’s chances of being on the plane, bound for France in the summer are now edging away, four years after being in the squad for the championships in Poland/Ukraine.
However, O’Neill has explained why Westwood has become the odd man out on the Irish goalkeeping scene, and from the manager’s point of view reliability, or rather lack of it, is the question that hangs over the 31 year-old, who has played just twice under the man who was once his boss at the Stadium of Light.
“Keiren has pulled out of a number of squads, not just in my time but I think he did it before,” said O’Neill.
“Therefore, naturally, it’s a concern but I think it’s something...you need a bit of reliability.
“I think that is very, very important - important for anyone you are studying or wanting to bring into the squad.
“I have never doubted Westwood’s talent.
“I had him for a year (at Sunderland) and he played some of the games and he missed out through illness when I brought Simon Mignolet into the side at Sunderland. And Simon did so well that he stayed in the side.
“But Westwood has got back in again and is doing very well at Sheffield Wednesday. He has missed the occasional game at Wednesday as well too, not just for international matches.
“He’s a talented boy, definitely, but of course I would have a bit of concern.”