Sheffield Wednesday: Consistent Keiren Westwood leads the way for Owls

Keiren Westwood
Keiren Westwood

Keiren Westwood is widely-regarded as the best goalkeeper in the Championship - and he was one of Wednesday’s top performers in their failed push for promotion.

The Republic of Ireland international, recruited by Stuart Gray in July 2014, kept 16 of the Owls’ 17 clean sheets as the club qualified for the play-off semi-finals.

Barry Bannan

Barry Bannan

Westwood, crowned the club’s player of the year earlier this month, didn’t deserve to finish on the losing side against Huddersfield Town. He pulled off two vital saves in the first leg and gave Wednesday hope in the penalty shoot-out when he guessed the right way to foil Jack Payne.

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But the Terriers dashed Wednesday’s dreams of a Premier League return, prevailing 4-3 on penalties.

Late Thursday night, Westwood posted on Twitter: “Devastated in an understatement, I genuinely thought we could go on better than last season. I just wanted to say I’m immensely proud of this season and every single one of my teammates. To a man they’ve been fantastic. We’ve all played our part.

Keiren Westwood

Keiren Westwood

“It’s been an absolutely pleasure to play for this fantastic football club and this great team this season. The way we all work for each other and team spirit is there for everyone to see.”

Nobody started more league matches (43) than Westwood in the Owls’ promotion tilt.

Midfield dynamo Barry Bannan was not far behind Westwood, racking up 42 starts. The former Aston Villa trainee featured on 46 occasions in all competitions, a record that no other player in Wednesday’s squad can better.

Bannan, who converted the Owls’ second spot-kick in the shoot-out against Huddersfield, posted on Twitter: “Gutted is a understatement. Just wanna thank the fans and my teamates for this season; you have been brilliant and we will be back.”

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Adam Reach made the left wing role his own, making 36 starts after arriving from Middlesbrough at the end of August.

Despite their injury problems, defender Tom Lees and midfielders Sam Hutchinson and Ross Wallace also started over 30 times.

Loan wingers Will Buckley and Callum McManaman were barely used, featuring from the start on just four occasions between them.

*League starts: Westwood 43, Bannan 42 (1), Reach 36 (3), Lees 35, Hutchinson 33, Wallace 32 (9), Hunt 31 (1), Loovens 29 (3), Lee 26, Pudil 26, Forestieri 25 (10), Fletcher 22 (16), Jones 18 (11), Hooper 17 (6), Palmer 15 (6), Rhodes 14 (4), Sasso 12 (2), Abdi 11 (5), Winnall 10 (4), Fox 10, Joao 7 (3), Nuhiu 2 (18), McManaman 2 (9), Buckley 2 (9), Semedo 2 (8), Dawson 2 (2), Matias 1 (1), Wildsmith 1, Emanuelson 0 (1), Hirst 0 (1).

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