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Westwood dismisses 'rumours, lies and accusations' amid reports of club rift

The Ireland international has been frozen out at Sheffield Wednesday by manager Garry Monk.

republic-of-ireland-v-serbia-2018-fifa-world-cup-qualifying-group-d-aviva-stadium Keiren Westwood was last capped by the Republic of Ireland in 2017. Source: Niall Carson

KEIREN WESTWOOD ADDRESSED “online abuse” he has received during his absence from the Sheffield Wednesday team in a statement issued by the Republic of Ireland international goalkeeper this morning.

Amid reports of a rift with manager Garry Monk, Westwood hasn’t played for the Championship side since a 2-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion on 23 November. 

“Being trolled online is never a nice experience,” he wrote in a tweet, which was accompanied by a lengthy statement that appeared to confirm he has played his final game for the club.

“With the tragic events recently it’s given me the courage to speak out to put an end to the online abuse I’m receiving simply for doing my job. Clarity is important. Enough is enough.”

Westwood, who joined from Sunderland in 2014, was Sheffield Wednesday’s first-choice goalkeeper when Garry Monk was appointed manager in September. The 35-year-old missed just three – due to suspension and injury – of their first 17 Championship games of the season.

However, he has been frozen out of the squad recently, with Monk preferring Cameron Dawson and Joe Wildsmith instead. According to local reports, Westwood and midfielder Sam Hutchinson are now training with the club’s U23 side.

While calling on supporters to stay behind the team, the Manchester-born goalkeeper insisted that he had an amicable discussion with the manager over his situation.

west-bromwich-albion-v-sheffield-wednesday-sky-bet-championship-the-hawthorns November's defeat to West Bromwich Albion was Westwood's most recent appearance. Source: Mike Egerton

In full, his statement reads:

With all the rumours, lies and accusations being said about me online, I feel obliged to clear my name and defend myself. I feel it’s personally becoming too much to handle and it is getting out of control. The manager and I have not fallen out. We had a conversation man to man, and it was fine. I’m very experienced to know that these things happen in football and it’s never anything personal. We had a good conversation, shook hands and left on good terms. I’m too far into my career to fall out with people. I know football inside and out, and I know a week is a lifetime in this world, so the hostility and animosity isn’t something I am interested in having in my life. There was no arguments or bad attitudes, and definitely none of the rumours being bandied about having occurred. The manager has made a decision, which I fully accept and respect, and I have done since the moment it was made. After six years at this wonderful club, I reflect on my time here with great pride, having played 179 matches, twice being Player of the Year, twice equalling the clean sheet record and making it into the PFA Team of the Year. I will also look back with great fondness and affection to the love that has been afforded to me by the club, the managers, Mr Chansiri and his family, all the staff and my team-mates, who I have shared plenty of highs and lows with and given everything for each other out on that pitch. To the fans who have rowed that journey with me, the rapport and love I have felt, I will never forget and will cherish forever. With all that said, I fully support the team and the club, not only on professional level, but also on a personal level as my two boys wouldn’t have that any other way. Rumours and gossip can cause a rift in the fanbase and hurt people in the process. It’s important that the fans stick together and support the team. 

Westwood has played 20 times for Ireland at senior level since making his debut in 2009. Although he featured in Mick McCarthy’s squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia in March of last year, he hasn’t won a cap since the 3-1 friendly win over Uruguay in June 2017.

A run of six games without a victory in the Championship has seen Sheffield Wednesday drop to 12th place. The Owls are now nine points shy of a play-off spot.

When asked about the situation surrounding Westwood and Sam Hutchinson after Saturday’s 3-0 home defeat to Reading, Garry Monk told the Sheffield Star: “At the end of the day, I have been in changing rooms for 25 years and I know what a successful environment looks like.

“I have to make decisions for various reasons that I think will help that environment, and that goes for the whole squad. What I will say is that every single player knows exactly where he stands.” 

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About the author:

Paul Dollery

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