Westwood stakes claim for Sunderland’s No.1

Keiren Westwood.
Keiren Westwood.

KEIREN Westwood hopes he has put down a marker after keeping the only clean sheet of Sunderland’s short close-season programme.

The Republic of Ireland international played every minute of the Black Cats’ 1-0 win over Midtjylland in Denmark last night, making several eye-catching stops in the process.

And his hope will be that he has done enough to get the nod for Sunderland’s season-opener against Fulham at the Stadium of Light next weekend.

Westwood has been expected to be the number one keeper in the coming season after the £11m sale of Simon Mignolet to Liverpool this summer.

And even after Sunderland spent £2million purchasing Vito Mannone from Arsenal, Westwood’s place was regarded as secure.

But Di Canio’s reliance on his countryman in the Asia Trophy in Hong Kong – the Italian played 90 of the club’s 120 minutes football out there – has cast some doubts over that.

Former Coventry City keeper Westwood told the Echo: “I just try and go out and give my best every time I play and I have to be happy that I managed to keep a clean sheet.

“I had a few saves to make and although it was important that we won the game, from my point of view the fact that we did not concede was a real bonus.

“I’m hoping I will be playing many more games this season.

“Like any professional footballer, you want to be playing games.

“And while I’m loathe to say my career took a backward step last season, the reality is that the amount I was involved last season was not enough for me.

“I want it to be different next season and I’m delighted to have kept a clean sheet in our final pre-season game.

“But in the end it comes down to the manager who he chooses and all I can do in that direction is do my very best week in, week out and hope it is enough.”