Sunderland keeper Westwood wants Given Ireland return

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KEIREN Westwood is eager for Shay Given to shake off a knee injury and return to the fold for Ireland, even if it scuppers his own chances of appearing at Euro 2012.

The Sunderland keeper earned only his ninth international cap in Ireland’s 1-0 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday after first-choice Given was ruled out with a knee problem.

Given is expected to return to training this week after seeing a specialist in London and should be fit to feature in Ireland’s final warm-up game against Hungary next Monday.

That is good news for Westwood despite the ex-Newcastle stopper’s injury boost meaning the Black Cats man will play second fiddle when Ireland get their Euro campaign underway against Croatia on Sunday, June 10.

Westwood said: “Shay is a hero of mine, so I couldn’t wish him any ill will.

“OK, I may have benefited if he was unavailable, but that isn’t what I want as a person or what we want as a squad. We want Shay fit.

“At club level, a little bitterness can exist within a squad, but we have none of that here. We are all in it together.”

Given was encouraged by Westwood’s performance against Bosnia, in the 27-year-old’s first competitive outing since losing his Sunderland place to illness at the turn of the year.

“He was unlucky what happened at Sunderland – he came down with the flu when he was playing really well and hasn’t got his place back,” said Given.

“I think we all know how good he is – he’s a very good goalkeeper.

“I think Westy made a good save second half. They had two long-range shots and didn’t create too many other chances apart from that, so, from a defensive side of things, we were happy as well.”

The Bosnia game was at times a bruising encounter, with captain Robbie Keane emerging with sore ribs after being caught by a knee.

Matchwinner Shane Long said: “We have only two friendlies to get everything right on the pitch, and we did all right. Hopefully we can take that into (the final friendly against) Hungary and then on to Poland.”

Meanwhile, released Derby midfielder Paul Green has been called up to replace injured Birmingham City man Keith Fahey (groin) in Ireland’s Euro 2012 squad.