Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood gunning for Republic of Ireland recall

Owls keeper Keiren Westwood
Owls keeper Keiren Westwood

New boy Keiren Westwood is targeting an international recall following his move to Sheffield Wednesday.

The goalkeeper wants to force his way into Martin O’Neill’s plans ahead of the Republic of Ireland’s European Championship qualifiers, which begin in September. His last senior outing came for Ireland against Latvia last November.

Westwood, released by Sunderland at the end of last season, told The Star: “It’s a big personal ambition of mine to get back into the Irish set up. That was in my thought process before I decided to came here. I need to get back to playing regular football. If I can play 40 to 50 games in a season, hopefully an international call-up will follow on from that.”

Westwood featured in the first half of the Owls’ 3-1 friendly success at York City last Friday.

“It was my first game for seven months; I felt a bit rusty but the more minutes I get now the better towards the start of the season,” said Westwood, who agreed a two-year deal with Wednesday earlier this month.

“It does take time to shake off the rust. It’s the same with any player. I was happy to get back out on the pitch.”

The 29-year-old missed a big chunk of last season due to a shoulder injury. The problem, which Westwood sustained playing for Sunderland against Hull City, required surgery.

Westwood said: “I was back after four months. I feel stronger than ever now. It feels great.”

Several clubs, including Premier League champions Manchester City, expressed an interest in signing Westwood over the summer.

He admitted: “I had a few options. I spoke to the manager here [Stuart Gray]. He told me his plans. This is a big club and the chance to play first-team football was an option I couldn’t turn down.

“It’s okay being linked to City and going there and being second or maybe third choice. But your career is soon over. I sat on the bench the year before at Sunderland and I wanted to play some games.

“I started the season as number one at Sunderland. That was fantastic for myself. I played a few games and got injured. I’m 29 and I want to be playing games. I can’t be sitting on the bench.”

Lewis Buxton (knee) is expected to train with the rest of the Wednesday squad over the next 48 hours in Slovenia. Caolan Lavery is a major doubt for their friendly with FC Arsenal Tula on Wednesday after hurting his knee against York. Jose Semedo (concussion) is set to be passed fit to play.

Winger Paul McElroy has left Wednesday. The 19-year-old, who penned a one-year deal with the Owls last month after being released by Hull City, has terminated his contract for “personal reasons”.