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Dublin: 10°C Wednesday 12 May 2021

Ireland's Keiren Westwood 'the best goalkeeper in the Championship'

The Sheffield Wednesday stopper has earned 11 clean sheets this season.

Westwood has earned 11 clean sheets this season.
Westwood has earned 11 clean sheets this season.
Image: Richard Sellers

IRELAND INTERNATIONAL KEIREN Westwood has been hailed as “the best goalkeeper in the Championship” after securing his 11th clean sheet of the season on Saturday.

Westwood impressed during his side’s 1-0 win over Huddersfield, and the 31-year-old has now conceded just once in Sheffield Wednesday’s last six matches in total.

But despite his fine form at club level, Westwood is a doubt for Ireland’s Euro 2016 squad. Even with Rob Elliot’s season-ending injury, in recent squads, Westwood has been behind Darren Randolph, Shay Given and David Forde in the pecking order.

But with none of the aforementioned trio playing regular first-team football for their clubs, there is hope yet that Westwood could force his way into the squad on the back of a series of eye-catching performances this season.

Speaking after the win at the weekend, Owls coach Carlos Carvalhal refused to be drawn on the subject of whether Martin O’Neill should pick Westwood for the Euros this summer, but he was full of praise for the goalkeeper, who featured in last season’s Championship Team of the Year.

“You understand I am the coach, and that is the work of another coach,” Carvalhal told The Sheffield Star.

What I can say about Keiren is what I said before: we are very happy with Keiren. He is doing fantastic here, he is a goalkeeper who was the best in the Championship, and he is still the best ‘keeper in the competition.

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“He had a period where he had some problems. After his last physical problem, he has been fantastic. He came back very strong. He is playing fantastically after the injury, he is strong and in his best shape of the season.

After this, it is the problem of the other coach (O’Neill). He understands his goalkeepers. But that doesn’t mean that Keiren can’t be involved in the future. It is not my job to comment on (the international situation).”

Westwood, who previously worked under O’Neill at Sunderland, has 18 Ireland caps in total, making his most recent appearance in the 0-0 friendly draw with England back in June.

Meanwhile, it was a less satisfactory weekend for another Euro 2016 hopeful, as Shane Duffy was sent off after 24 minutes of Blackburn’s 2-1 loss to Preston.

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Paul Fennessy

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