John O’Shea has backed Sunderland team-mate Keiren Westwood to emerge as a worthy successor to Shay Given as Republic of Ireland goalkeeper when the veteran Aston Villa man calls time on his international career.
The Black Cats defender also believes that should anything untoward happen to Given during Euro 2012 Ireland will be in safe hands.
Given’s sustained excellence means the former Coventry net-minder has played just one competitive game for his country — against Macedonia in a Euro 2012 qualifier in March last year, performing well in Ireland’s 2-1 win.
Westwood has since joined Sunderland, where he has made nine appearances this season and impressed many, O’Shea included.
‘‘Believe me, we will have 100% faith in Westy if he is called upon, because he was called upon during the group stages and was fantastic,’’ O’Shea told Sunderland’s website.
‘‘We’ve seen this year that when Keiren has had a run of games in the team he has shown he’s more than capable of not only being Sunderland’s No 1, but a top international keeper too.
‘‘I’m sure that when Shay Given decides to call it a day, Westy will be more than ready to step up to the mark. He has shown fantastic ability and the mental attitude to be able to cope with those demands.’’
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved