Sheffield Wednesday: No hard feelings, insists Westwood

Keiren Westwood
Keiren Westwood

Keiren Westwood insists he has no axe to grind with Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill over his lack of opportunities to impress at international level.

Despite his outstanding club form, Westwood has featured just once for O’Neill’s side in 2015. His last outing came in the Republic’s friendly with England in June.

Keiren Westwood

Keiren Westwood

The 31-year-old, who pulled out of the Republic’s most recent squad to an ankle problem, has vowed to earn a place in their squad for next summer’s European Championship finals in France.

Wednesday goalkeeper Westwood told The Star: “Whenever I am called up, I am immensely proud to play for Ireland. I love playing for them.

“I love going away and meeting up with the lads. We are all really close. It is like we are brothers rather than teammates.

“It has been really frustrating because of the injuries. It has been a real shame. I would love to be involved but it is up to the manager. He picks his squad and who he thinks is the best.

“I am not one for knocking on a manager’s door and saying this, that and the other. The manager picks his team and he has been vindicated because we got to France.

“There is no gripe from me. He (O’Neill) makes the decisions and we have qualified so I am as delighted as much as the next man.

“I want to be playing as much as I can between now and the end of the season to get into his thoughts to be in the final squad.”

Republic have been handed a tough draw for the tournament. They will be up against the world’s top-ranked side Belgium, Italy and Sweden in Group E.

Westwood said: “There is a big togetherness in the squad and we are looking forward to the Euros. I’m sure the nation will get right behind us.”

The former Manchester City trainee, voted Wednesday’s player of the season last term, hopes his injury problems are now a thing of the past.

“I have had a bit of a stop start season,” he conceded. “I have had a bit of an ankle injury so it was tough to keep going.

“When you need the rest, you have got to take it or you won’t heal right.

“It has been immensely frustrating because I have not been able to play at full tilt. I hurt my ankle early on in pre-season so I have been playing catch up.

“Then, away at Ipswich, I punctured my kidney and I was sat in A & E until 1am. Kev the physio ended up driving me home and I was out for four weeks. That was a disaster and I came back and my ankle was still sore.

“Thankfully now I feel good for the first time in a while.”