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'He hasn't let us down' - Ex-Ireland keeper backs Randolph to keep hold of number one jersey

Packie Bonner believes Martin O’Neill will stick with the West Ham goalkeeper for next month’s qualifier against Austria.

Randolph and Westwood.
Randolph and Westwood.
Image: PA Archive/PA Images

PACKIE BONNER SEES no reason to change Ireland’s current number one goalkeeper.

West Ham’s Darren Randolph has been first choice for the Boys in Green since replacing the now-retired Shay Given during that famous win over Germany in 2015.

In that time, the Wicklow man dislodged Adrian at club level but Hammers boss Slaven Bilic has opted to drop Randolph in the past month.

International team-mate Keiren Westwood is widely-regarded as the best goalkeeper in the Championship and the Sheffield Wednesday stopper’s fine form continued in the Championship play-off first leg with Huddersfield Town last Saturday.

With Ireland facing Austria in a World Cup qualifier next month, manager Martin O’Neill admitted he has a decision to make when asked about situation.

However, Bonner, who was capped 80 times for Ireland between 1981 and 1996, believes Randolph should keep his place.

“I think Darren will remain the number one,” Bonner told The42. “He’s got the profile, he’s a big lad, which Martin likes, he kicks the ball well and he hasn’t let us down.

They’re going to be together for two or three weeks training and I’d be surprised if he didn’t go with Darren. If it was the middle of the season and he was out for a length of time with Keiren doing very well, then it might be different.

“But this time of the year I don’t think that will come into his mind.”

France v Republic of Ireland - UEFA Euro 2016 - Round of 16 - Stade de Lyon Westwood consoles Randolph after Ireland's Euro 2016 exit. Source: Chris Radburn

Asked if it’s essential for goalkeepers to be playing regularly for their club, he added:

“It depends how much experience you have. If you can rely on experience and can keep yourself sharp and fit, then it’s not a big issue.

“It’s about the relationship between the defenders and the goalkeeper and if you look back on that over a period, that has been good. I don’t see any reason why you would change it.”

Irish goalkeeping legend Packie Bonner returned to Dublin today to help raise awareness of a lesser-known disease, bladder cancer. With approximately 450 people diagnosed in Ireland each year, the ‘Don’t ignore the red’ campaign, created by Roche in partnership with the Marie Keating Foundation, aims to educate those most at risk of developing the disease to understand the symptoms.

 As a part of this campaign, the Marie Keating Foundation has created a new section on their website to educate the public on bladder cancer symptoms and risk factors.

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