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O'Shea backs Westwood to take chance

John O'Shea is backing Sunderland team-mate Kieren Westwood to fill the considerable void vacated by Shay Given following his announcement on Monday he was retiring from international football.

With a number of big-name players absent, O'Shea will don the Ireland armband for the first time in his career on Wednesday for the friendly with Serbia in Belgrade. For Westwood, in particular, it is his chance to step into the spotlight hogged by Given for the majority of the last 16 years over which time the Aston Villa goalkeeper won a record 125 caps.

"Tomorrow is going to be very different because for the majority of my caps Shay has been the goalkeeper," said defender O'Shea. "He was a fantastic personality, incredible to have around the place, and great for the young lads as well."

He added: "He was someone you could rely upon because when the defence was breached he generally rescued us a lot of the time.

"But he made his decision and we have to get on with it. Now is the time for the new lads, and Kieren in particular.

"I know at close hand, working with him at Sunderland, how well he has been training and performing.

"He hasn't let Ireland down before when he has come in, so fingers crossed he'll fill the void more than comfortably."

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