Kirkland and Westwood to fight for Hillsborough No 1 spot

Sheffield Wednesday's Chris Kirkland.
Sheffield Wednesday's Chris Kirkland.
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Stuart Gray is predicting a fierce battle for places at Sheffield Wednesday after signing two goalkeepers inside 24 hours.

The Owls coach Gray kick-started Wednesday’s summer recruitment drive by first bringing in former Sunderland goalkeeper Keiren Westwood on a free transfer, before thrashing out a new deal for out-of-contract Chris Kirkland.

And with former Chelsea midfielder Sam Hutchinson also agreeing a two-year deal to join the Owls, Wednesday’s summer recruitment drive finally kicked into gear prompting speculation that new owner Hafiz Mammadov’s takeover will soon be rubber-stamped by the Football League.

Former Liverpool and England goalkeeper Kirkland was last season’s No 1 at Hillsborough, but had little competition for the shirt. With the arrival of Republic of Ireland international Westwood, that now changes.

“It’s nice to do some good business with the two goalkeepers Chris Kirkland and Keiren Westwood,” said Gray, who takes his team to York City on Saturday for their first pre-season game of the summer.

“It’s fantastic news for Sheffield Wednesday and fantastic news for the team, with the two of them fighting for one place.

“The problem last season was that we had a quality goalkeeper in Chris Kirkland and then we brought in loan goalkeepers.

“You’re always a phone call away from their parent clubs calling them back so I wanted two ’keepers in-house competing with each other day-in, day-out.

“It will be fierce competition between the two of them. One thing I do know is that I have got a lot of confidence in these two goalkeepers.”

Sheffield United manager 
Nigel Clough remains relaxed about his search for a marquee striker to top off his summer transfer shopping.

Clough has been busy in the transfer market, but is still actively pursuing a frontline forward, having been strongly linked with Barnsley’s Chris O’Grady, with exploratory talks having already been held.

Clough said: “We are still chasing but no further forward. But we are not desperate. It would have to be the right one and for the right deal. It will have to be a good striker to supplement what we have got.”

Clough revealed a loan bid to bring back Kieron Freeman from Derby County was knocked back.

Hull City left-back Joe Dudgeon has signed a new one-year contract at the KC Stadium.

He has made just two first-team appearances in the past 18 months due to a knee problem.