Tuesday 28 January 2020

Westwood is Mick's only option if Randolph's not fit to face the Danish

Keiren Westwood is the only option for Mick McCarthy
Keiren Westwood is the only option for Mick McCarthy

Mick McCarthy will, of course, hope that Darren Randolph's injury is not so serious that he can't play against Denmark next month, but Mick will be worried about the fact that Darren has a thigh strain, and we don't know when he'll be fit again.

And if Darren does miss the Danish match, Mick will have to look to Keiren Westwood to play in goal, presuming the Sheffield Wednesday keeper is fit.

I know there have been issues over Keiren turning up (or not) in the past and he wasn't in the most recent squad, but I'd put all that aside and pick him to play, as you simply need experience for a game like this one.

Darren will be missed, he brings a very calming influence to the side for a keeper who came to international football relatively late in his career.

His actual goalkeeping has improved over the last few years. He was always a decent keeper but with the more games he's played, he's improved. The good keepers thrive on the chances they get and Darren has done that.

The No. 1 jersey was up for grabs before he got it, as he'd not played a lot of club football at the top level, but it's a credit to Darren that he has taken on the challenge and taken the shirt.

Middlesbrough will know if and when Darren is fit again but if he's not ok to play for Ireland, it's a big call for Mick. he has young players like Kieran O'Hara and Mark Travers, but these games are all about experience.

And Westwood has experience. Westy hasn't always turned up for Ireland squads but he's the best option available to Mick.

I was in squads with Westy. I was also in squads that he didn't show up for, but I wouldn't be too harsh on him for missing squads as I think it's different for keepers at international level.

If you are first choice at your club, you are used to playing every week. You are looked after, everyone loves you. Then you come over to the international set-up, you're second choice and it's hard to keep turning up, keep coming over when you know you won't play as Shay Given or Darren Randolph are ahead of you.

Outfield players know they might get 10 minutes off the bench and try to change the game but keepers usually don't get that. And keepers struggle with not being number one. I think Westy found that with Ireland over the years. But now he has a chance to come over next month, if Darren is not fit, and be the No. 1, even if only for the Denmark game.

And I'd have no doubts about his commitment if Mick needs him.

He'll be as professional as he has to be.

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