Sheffield Wednesday: Happy Westwood salutes Owls’ mean defence

Owls keeper Keiren Westwood
Owls keeper Keiren Westwood

For goalkeeper Keiren Westwood, the team comes before personal accolades.

That said, the Owls No 1 has expressed his relief over getting his career back on track at Hillsborough.

A smile was never far away from Westwood’s face when interviewed by the local media earlier this week. It is abundantly clear that the 30-year-old is loving playing regular first-team football again.

Westwood, released by Sunderland at the end of last term after making just 19 league appearances in three seasons, has been Wednesday’s stand-out performer during the 2014/15 campaign. He has played a pivotal role in the team equalling a club-record 17 clean sheets in a league season.

“I am very happy and have enjoyed my time here,” Westwood told The Star. “It has been great.

“I had six months out with a shoulder operation at Sunderland, and just wanted to play and show everyone I was still alive. I am happy to have done that.

“At the start of the season, it (clean sheet records) was not really something which I envisaged or really thought about, if I am honest.”

Keiren Westwood

“At the start of the season, it (clean sheet records) was not really something which I envisaged or really thought about, if I am honest. It’s great just to have the opportunity to say we equalled or broke the record.

“I never envisaged getting clean sheet records; I just wanted to come and play and get back out there again.”

Republic of Ireland international Westwood refuses to take all the credit for the Owls being on the brink of breaking the clean sheet record which has stood since 1978-79 in the days when Jack Charlton was manager.

“It’s not just down to one person, it’s down to a whole number of people,” he stressed. “It’s been a good season, but clean sheets don’t just come from the goalkeeper, they come from everywhere.

“We had the same back five for a long time, that helped, with Jose Semedo - who has had a great season - in front.

“I could pick out names throughout the team. Atdhe (Nuhiu) is winning headers from corners, and heading it away, Liam Palmer is clearing them off the post.

“I could literally name everybody in something they have done to to help in keeping a clean sheet.”

Following his impressive performances since moving to South Yorkshire, Westwood reportedly attracted the interest of a number of Premier League clubs during the January transfer window.

He said: “It wasn’t in the forefront of my mind. I had literally just got here and it would be very silly to leave a club after two months of being here.

“It’s not my scene, not my style, and I was always going to see the season out.”

Westwood, a late withdrawal from Saturday’s 2-2 draw away at Bournemouth due to a calf problem, is set to make his 43rd start in today’s lunch-time showdown with Leeds United.

“There has been no let-up from the gaffer, he doesn’t want us to be on our jollies, with the flip-flops on,” he said. “Nobody can throw that at us. We pushed Bournemouth all the way and thoroughly deserved a point.

“We have got a good dressing room, everyone is working hard for each other. When you step over the line you want to do yourself justice.”

Chairman Dejphon Chansiri is aiming to lead Wednesday back into the Premier League by 2017 and Westwood is predicting a big summer of change

“The owner says he wants to get promoted to the Premier League within two seasons, so I am expecting a big turnover (in the summer) if I am honest,” he said. “I don’t really know what to say, until the season ends and I guess the gaffer will talk to all the players that are here already, get them signed up and increase the squad.

“We have had a great season, the lads have done great and deserve all the plaudits they are getting in. We have worked hard together, a good team spirit, and a nucleus of a good squad.”

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