Considering Keiran Westwood didn’t make his professional debut until 2004, his 264 appearances for Carlisle and Coventry is an impressive total on his cv, for the 26 year old goalkeeper.
Westwood is a genuine talent, who this summer has fulfilled the ultimate dream of joining the premier league, as he signed for Sunderland in June.
He will provide instant pressure on Scottish stopper Craig Gordon, and will be prepared to play the waiting game like he did with Matt Glennon at Carlisle in his early years, a battle he eventually won with Glennon moving on, leaving the gloves available for Westwood to claim.
I remember the keeper catching my eye during a Boxing Day clash with Tranmere in 2007; Rovers claimed a 2-0 win with a deflected goal followed by our goal of the season from Antony Kay, two strikes he could do nothing about. That day he kept the score down with a number of incredible saves, in a season where Carlisle finished in the league one play offs.
Westwood was named in the team of the year for the league, and in the play offs was on another planet, many will remember Carlisle stunning Leeds at Elland Road with a 2-1 victory, where Westwood was the star of the show, producing save after save leaving the likes of Jermaine Beckford and Dougie Freedman frustrated. Leeds eventually progressed 3-2 on aggregate and Carlisle were summoned to another season in league (so were Leeds eventually, for that matter), but not Westwood! He joined championship side Coventry for an undisclosed fee, and in his first season at the Ricoh Arena was named in the Championship team of the season.
The following season he was named the clubs player of the season, and last season the club could arguably have been relegated without his wonder saves, helping them to an 18th place finish.
The Irish stopper who has 9 caps for his country is also homing in on the number one shirt for his country; he was superb in their Euro qualifier against Macedonia in March, when Shay Given was injured. Personally I think Westwood deserves the nod for their qualifiers with Slovakia and Russia in September, seeing as Given was out of action on the City bench all last season.
I for one hope Westwood claims the number one spot at Sunderland, and will continue the wonderful career he’s having, clearly a lad with his head screwed on, as he has made a steady path to the top flight after he was released by Manchester City in 2004.