Alan Biggs at Large: West is best for the Owls, as Keiren Westwood continues to defy ‘big-time’ accusations to keep Sheffield Wednesday above water

Owls keeper Keiren Westwood
Owls keeper Keiren Westwood

Keiren Westwood: time for you to take a bow. And to get the break you deserve from a Sheffield Wednesday team that owes you one...or two or three or four (goals) to take the pressure off an over-reliance on good defending in general, and outstanding goalkeeping in particular.

Westwood’s re-emergence also reminds us that it’s always tasty when a player makes his critics eat their words. Mind you, in his case it was more about whispers than anything spoken in public.

And you can’t eat a whisper, can you? Unless it’s spelt Wispa, of course... and let’s just say there were people in the game suggesting, with a nudge and a wink, that Westwood had a very high opinion of himself.

You didn’t have to go out of your way to hear those murmurs. They were common currency in the gossip stakes at one time as Westwood, after building an impressive reputation at Carlisle and Coventry, struggled for a breakthrough in three years at Sunderland.

I heard some fellow pros calling him “big time.” Not any more. And yet big time is exactly what he is finally tipped to be - by no less a judge than Sky pundit Matt Murray, the former Wolves keeper, who tells me Westwood can yet become a Premier League star and the undisputed number one of the Republic of Ireland.

Of course, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, especially in a goalkeeper. You could even argue you need some of the latter in that position.

Whatever, Westwood has proved a terrific signing by Stuart Gray, as he has needed to be in displacing an accomplished performer and crowd favourite in Chris Kirkland.

Murray believe that Westwood’s Sunderland experience has proved the making of him. “The move didn’t work out for him and maybe it was a wake up call,” he reckons. “Keiren’s really grabbed his chance to be the top goalie at Wednesday. For me, he has all the attributes to be a top flight keeper. And I think he’ll be in the shop window now.”

Not that the Owls would be thinking of selling, but assets are no bad thing and, even at 30, a keeper can stoke up some value. Murray adds: “Keiren seems to have been busy most weeks, he’s made numerous big saves for his team and must have earned a good few points for them. I think he’ll become Ireland’s number one as well. I like David Forde of Millwall but I think Westwood is better.

“I’ve watched him a few times and the saves he made against Norwich recently were simply outstanding. His distribution is very good too. Overall, Keiren has that nice confidence - I wouldn’t say arrogance - about him.”

Outfield, Wednesday need to assert themselves again. Gray’s comments evidently had more bite than his team when he branded their performance “unacceptable” in losing to new Championship leaders Bournemouth on Tuesday.

He saw too much movement “backwards and sideways” and wants to be on the front foot against Rotherham on Saturday. Westwood, for one, will surely welcome that.