Westwood will battle to be number one
Republic of Ireland goalkeeper ready to take his chance at Sunderland after Mignolet’s move to Liverpool
Sunderland goalkeeper Keiren Westwood
The 28-year-old admitted while on international duty last month that might have to consider leaving the Black Cats in search of the regular football he needs to regain his place as the Ireland’s number one.
However, Mignolet’s departure for Liverpool means there is now a vacancy, and the former Coventry man and new signing Vito Mannone will fight it out for the right to take over from the Belgian.
It is an opportunity Westwood is relishing after his hopes of securing a loan move in January were scuppered.
He told the Sunderland Echo: “It would have been a wrench to leave, but on the other side of it, I have to think of my career.
“I have to play games and have something to look forward to during the week, putting all that work in on the training field to send fans home happy on a Saturday.
“I didn’t have that last year, but I still carried on going. At times, it was mentally demoralising.
“I want to play. Everybody knows I want to play. It’s not in my nature to sit on the bench. I would rather go and play for a Championship team on less money and play every week, just so I get that buzz on a Saturday.
“Sitting on the bench in the Premier League and picking up money is not my desire or attitude. It’s a trap I don’t want to fall into.
“You can quite easily do that. You can see over the years that players have done that, not just goalkeepers.”
Westwood returned for pre-season this week to meet Mannone and a series of new team-mates with manager Paolo Di Canio having rung the changes.
Among them was former Basle midfielder Cabral, who is ready to test himself in the Premier League after winning everything he could in Switzerland.
However, he believes England’s top flight represents a whole new challenge, and one he is keen to take on.
He told the Black Cats’ official website, www.safc.com: “This is a new challenge for me and I am looking forward to it.
“Playing in Basle, we won everything in Switzerland, and I played in the Champions League and Europa League.
“Now I have a new challenge in England and for me, it is the best league.”
Basle reached the semi-finals of the Europa League last season, only to lose out to eventual winners Chelsea over two legs, in a run which captivated the club’s fans.
However, Cabral, whose Champions League experience could be invaluable to Di Canio, is well aware of the level of support at the Stadium of Light and is looking forward to running out there for the first time.
He said: “The Champions League was very good and a great experience for the young players.
“Last year, we played in the Europa League and for a Swiss club to reach the semi-finals was very good also.
“Now I am playing for Sunderland in England. I am happy. In Basel, there are passionate fans — around 20,000 or so per game — but this is different.
“Every game we play, the fans are always there and that is important for the team. In the game, I battle for the fans.”