Everyone’s out to impress at Sunderland – Westwood

No1 SPOT ... Keiren Westwood.
No1 SPOT ... Keiren Westwood.

KEIREN WESTWOOD says he will read nothing into Paolo Di Canio’s team selection for tomorrow’s Barclays Asia Trophy opener.

Republic of Ireland international Westwood is expected to be Sunderland’s number one next season after the £9million summer departure of Simon Mignolet last month.

Di Canio has subsequently boosted his goalkeeping options with the £2m capture of Vito Mannone and the former Arsenal stopper started both of Sunderland’s behind-closed-doors games at their Italian training camp.

Yet Westwood is the more established custodian, despite being restricted to just three Capital One Cup appearances last season after being forced to play second fiddle to Mignolet.

But the 28-year-old insists it is immaterial whether he starts tomorrow’s clash with Spurs or Saturday’s encounter against Manchester City or South China FC, with the selection for Sunderland’s Premier League opener against Fulham his sole concern.

Westwood told the Echo: “Everyone is guessing this, that and the other over who will play. Nobody really knows until that first game of the season.

“Everyone will have an opportunity to impress the manager and I think we’re all looking to grasp it. That can only benefit the club, with having a good, strong, 25-man squad.

“I don’t see it as being the number one. It’s up to the manager. I’ll try to play well in pre-season and give everything I’ve got in the games and hopefully take the opportunities I’m given. I’ll take it from there.”

Mannone is among seven of eight new signings who have travelled to Hong Kong in Sunderland’s squad, with the Black Cats the most active Premier League club in the transfer market so far this summer.

And Westwood says it is a huge positive that Sunderland have conducted their business so early, with the fresh faces given time to adapt to their new surroundings before Di Canio’s men begin their competitive programme.

“If you’re going to sign players, you want to do it at the start of pre-season,” added Westwood. “Then you have four weeks to get to know your team-mates and the way the managers wants you to play and the way the person next to you plays – his weaknesses, his positives.

“Then, you can sort of read each other’s game. There’s obviously a lot of different languages, but we’re trying to be positive.

“The gaffer will be looking at having a competitive squad and that can only benefit the club with competition for places. We were down to the bare bones last year and that was evident on the last game of the season.”