Sunderland keeper Keiren Westwood says he is ready, willing and able to start the Republic of Ireland’s opening game of Euro 2012 this weekend, should team-mate Shay Given fail to pass a fitness test.
As the PR battle around Given’s wounded knee continues, the Black Cats’ goalie is maintaining a low profile and just waiting to see what happens in the run-up to the Republic’s first game of the tournament, against Croatia on Sunday.
Asked about his team-mate’s fitness, Westwood shrugged: “I don’t know, I think he’s fine but you’ll have to ask Shay.
“If it came to it, would I be ready to step in?
“Well, of course, I would.
“You always have to be ready and I think we’re all the same in the squad – if you’re not in the team you have to be ready to play.”
The Republic’s assistant manager, Marco Tardelli, has insisted Given will be fit for the opener.
But questions about that claim were raised when the 36-year-old only went through a gentle work-out, away from the main squad at the Municipal Stadium at Gdynia.
The Aston Villa keeper is recovering from a tournament-threatening knee injury but also has calf issues and blistered feet.
He played only the first 45 minutes of Monday’s goalless friendly against Hungary and that has been his only football since the end of the Premier League season over three weeks ago. Tardelli said: “Shay rested because he knows his body.
“I think he is ready to play.
“Everything is good. He decides to work sometimes and sometimes not because he knows.”
The odds remain on Given being between the posts when the Republic face Croatia on Sunday.
But there is no doubt he is facing having to nurse his way through the competition at the very least.
And should he have any more breakdowns or setbacks, Westwood is poised to step in.