SUNDERLAND goalkeeper Keiren Westwood will start for the Republic of Ireland in Wednesday’s friendly against Wales.
Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has confirmed that Westwood will win his 16th international cap after Millwall’s David Forde was ruled out following knee surgery.
The former Carlisle and Coventry stopper lost his place in the national team after he was unable to take the number one spot from Simon Mignolet at the Stadium of Light last season.
Westwood played just three times for the Black Cats in 2012-13, all in the League Cup, and saw Forde overtake him in the Irish pecking order.
But with the Millwall man facing a spell on the sidelines, Westwood now has a chance to stake his claim to keep the jersey for next month’s World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria.
“Yes, I want to help his morale by giving him the opportunity to start this game,” said Trapattoni.
“I think it’s important that I show him we have confidence in him so as to help him recover his.
“Usually the number one plays every game and when he doesn’t he can lose a little confidence and maybe make some mistakes so it’s important to be calm but we know what he can do and it is good that he will have this opportunity to remind us.”
Following Mignolet’s departure to Liverpool this summer, Westwood was fully expected to be promoted to first choice goalkeeper on Wearside, though Paolo Di Canio’s decision to start new signing Vito Mannone in both games of the Barclays Asia Trophy cast some doubt over that.
But the Irishman did start in last week’s final pre-season friendly in Denmark, keeping a clean sheet in the 1-0 win over FC Midtjylland.