SUNDERLAND have resisted overtures from clubs keen to sign Republic of Ireland keeper Keiren Westwood .
Steve Bruce’s Hull City are the latest to be linked with an interest in the 28-year-old who is now firmly established as second in the Black Cats’ pecking order to Simon Mignolet.
It was Bruce who picked up the 28-year-old stopper on a free transfer from Coventry City in the summer of 2011 with Westwood originally arriving as direct competition for Mignolet.
But the Belgian took the number one jersey on New Year’s Day 2012 and has kept it ever since with Westwood playing only three first-team games last year – all of them in the Capital One Cup – now firmly in the place of understudy.
Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill can appreciate the interest in a top quality player and understands Westwood’s frustrations, but says the club is in no position to allow genuine talent to leave the club right now.
“I haven’t heard of an interest from Hull,” he said. “But Keiren clearly wants to play some games, of course he wants to play.
“My situation is that I have a very good goalkeeper in reserve, but it is hard to drop Simon Mignolet when he is playing so well.
“The fact is I’m very reluctant to let anyone go because we simply don’t have the back-up.
“A manager did ask me about Keiren a few days ago – rang me manager-to-manager, which seems to be very rare these days – and I just had to to tell him we couldn’t do anything.”
Sunderland have already let Ji Dong-won leave on loan to German side Augsburg this month while a £1.5m move to Hull City for midfielder David Meyler is in the process of being completed.
And O’Neill revealed in the Echo at the weekend that he might even have to recall Ahmed Elmohamady from season-long loan at Hull if Sunderland can’t get in the number of players needed to ensure the Black Cats can field a competitive Premier League squad for the rest of the season.
But the manager is determined to bring in new blood this month and has already been linked with a host of players.
He told the Echo: “I’d like to strengthen all the way through the team if I can and we are doing everything we can to make it happen.
“I’d like it to happen as soon as possible but generally these things take time.”
Sunderland are leading the chase for a short-term loan of former Everton midfielder Tim Cahill who is currently with the New York Red Bulls. QPR boss Harry Redknapp has also reportedly shown an interest in the Australian.
Reports in Turkey are insistent that Sunderland are launching a £2m bid for Bursaspor’s French defensive midfielder Alfred N’Diaye.
And the Black Cats have also been strongly linked with Anderlecht defender Roland Juhasz, a 29-year-old, 76 times capped Hungarian who could arrive on loan with a view to a permanent move.