Sunderland stopper Westwood on coach change

Keiren Westwood

Keiren Westwood

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KEIREN Westwood is used to change in the dug-out, with Martin O’Neill his eighth manager in seven years as a senior professional.

But the Republic of Ireland stopper admits the departure of Sunderland goalkeeping coach Nigel Spink was a bitter pill to swallow.

Sunderland are blessed with goalkeeping options, with Westwood the third international stopper on the club’s books after arriving on a Bosman free transfer from Coventry City during the summer.

Spink had fostered a positive rivalry between the trio of Westwood, Simon Mignolet and Craig Gordon before becoming a casualty of Bruce’s reign.

The former European Cup winner assisted caretaker boss Eric Black in the dug-out at Wolves prior to O’Neill’s official arrival, before the duo both left the club 24 hours later.

O’Neill’s long-time goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh has replaced Spink and Westwood has been encouraged by the early signs under the ex-Sunderland loanee.

But by the nature of the close bond which forms between a goalkeeping coach and the stoppers at his disposal, Westwood says it was tough to see Spink leave the club.

Westwood told the Echo: “It’s tougher losing the goalkeeping coach than the manager in some ways because you’re with them every day.

“It was obviously sad to see Nigel go.

“But it’s been good so far with Seamus.

“We’ve had some good training sessions and it’s different with different personalities and different coaches.

“You just get on with it, it’s not like it’s not happened to me before.

“Everyone loses their manager, although it’s strange when the manager, who signed you for the club, goes within three or four months of you being here.”

Rotherham-born McDonagh made seven appearances for Sunderland in 1985 during a loan spell from Notts County.

He has since enjoyed a successful coaching career, working alongside O’Neill at Leicester and Aston Villa, before leaving Championship outfit Hull City earlier this month to re-unite with the new Black Cats boss.