Westwood: Shay’s place no Given

The 26-year-old keeper, along with Birmingham midfielder Sebastian

Larsson, has completed a free transfer move to the Stadium of Light

after signing a three-year deal. Westwood, one of the most

highly-rated goalkeepers outside the Premier League, joined after

his Coventry contract expired and is hoping top-flight experience

will help him push Given all the way for the number one spot in

Giovanni Trapattoni’s squad. He told SAFC TV: “Obviously, that is

very difficult. Shay Given is an amazing goalkeeper and he has

dominated the goalkeeping situation for Ireland for many years now.

“That’s another challenge that I have been chipping away at for the

last couple of years, and hopefully playing in the Premier League

will make it a bit of a challenge for him.” Westwood, who has seven

senior caps to date, will go head-to-head with Belgium

international Simon Mignolet for the number one spot at his new

club at the start of next season with £9million man Craig

Gordon sidelined by a knee injury. The Scotland international’s

future has been the subject of some speculation with his contract

entering its final year, and the newcomer will hope to have made

himself central to manager Steve Bruce’s plans by the time he is

ready to return. Bruce said: “Keiren has proven to be an

exceptional goalkeeper both in the Championship and at

international level and he has certainly been one of the best in

this country outside of the Premier League in recent seasons. “We

are obviously delighted that Keiren sees his future here at

Sunderland, and we are looking forward to him joining what is a

talented group of goalkeepers at the club.” Larsson, of course,

already has plenty of Premier League experience under his belt

having been signed by Bruce for Birmingham from Arsenal in January

2007 following a successful loan spell. The 26-year-old Sweden

international admitted Bruce’s presence on Wearside had been a

major factor in his arrival. He said: “I have worked with the

manager before and that obviously made the decision easier, but

mainly it feels like it is a huge club and it feels like a great

challenge for me. “I want to take the next step in my career and I

really feel I can do that coming to Sunderland.” Bruce was

delighted to have finally captured a man who has been in his sights

for some time. He said: “Seb was a fantastic young player for me at

Birmingham and he has matured into a very good midfielder. “He has

been courted by a number of top clubs over the summer – both in

England and across Europe – so we are naturally delighted that he

has chosen to come to Sunderland.” The double signing brings

Sunderland’s close-season tally to date to six following the

arrivals of Ahmed Elmohamady, Connor Wickham, Ji Dong-won and Craig

Gardner.