Sheffield Wednesday: Keiren Westwood and Caolan Lavery’s Dublin showdown chances cool

Caolan Lavery is on international duty with Northern Ireland
Caolan Lavery is on international duty with Northern Ireland
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An international showdown between two Sheffield Wednesday stars this week is, at this stage, looking unlikely to happen.

Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Keiren Westwood and Northern Ireland striker Caolan Lavery are in their respective squads as the sides meet in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday.

Keiren Westwood

Keiren Westwood

Both countries have big games ahead and are using the match as part of their preparations.

On Sunday the Republic welcome England to Dublin for the first time in 20 years, the last being the night the game was abandoned as a result of visiting supporters rioting in the stands of Landsdown Road, and then take on Scotland in a Euro 2016 qualifier next Saturday.

Northern Ireland, who drew 1-1 with Qatar at Crewe’s Alexandra Stadium on Sunday are in a Group F second versus first clash with Romania at Windsor Park, also next Saturday.

However, while it is expected that Republic boss Martin O’Neill will use the non-sanctioned international to give as many players as possible a run out - quite possibly including Westwood, who appears to have fallen to third choice - his northern counterpart Michael O’Neill indicated that he is likely to field a strong team; as close as possible to that which will take on Romania.

With Lavery having failed to make his debut at the weekend and Northern Ireland welcoming back rested first team regulars Steven Davis, Gareth McAuley, Chris Brunt, Chris Baird and Kyle Lafferty, it would appear the Owls frontman would be an outsider to play in Dublin, potentially against his Hillsborough team mate.

“The reality of the situation is that we will be allowed to make more substitutions - I won’t use it on that basis,” said the Northern Ireland manager.

“Martin (O’Neill) has another game and Martin typically names a bigger squad than I will name, so he might look at it from the point of view of maybe playing two XIs.

“But for me, I will be looking more closely to the game in Romania and the team that starts and I may not even make as many substitutions as we did (against Qatar). We made six which was the maximum. That may not be the case looking forward to the game in Dublin.”

Lavery, one of a few Northern Ireland players who didn’t come off the bench at Crewe on Sunday, will remain hopeful that he does get the chance to play in the game in Dublin.

He said: “You never know who you are going to meet along the way until you play international football. It will be good if I play in that game. There will be a bit of banter flying around.”

For more news from Hillsborough click here