FORMER Sunderland goalkeeper Keiren Westwood could be back playing football in the North-East next season if Middlesbrough take advantage of a clause in the player's contract.

Westwood is with the Republic of Ireland squad for the European Championships after helping Sheffield Wednesday to the play-off final at Wembley last weekend.

He could still be sold by the Hillsborough club if a £2.5m release clause is triggered and a move suits all parties.

The 31-year-old is one of the most highly-rated goalkeepers in the Football League but he was left disappointed on Saturday when the Owls lost to Hull City at Wembley in the battle to join Boro in the top-flight next season.

Westwood was superb during the game, making a string of saves and Boro are known to be among a number of clubs considering a move.

It had been suggested there was a £6m valuation placed on him, but it has emerged he could leave for £2.5m two years after departing Sunderland as a free agent.

Westwood only made 18 Premier League starts during three years at the Stadium of Light, where he found himself behind Simon Mignolet.

Boro are keeping an eye on goalkeepers who can come in and compete with Dimi Konstantopoulos and Tomas Mejias next season, with Aitor Karaka keen to ensure he has a stronger squad for the Premier League.

Westwood also has long-standing interest from Everton, as well as West Brom and Hull, but he will be keen to put any talk about his future on hold until after the European Championships.

He is in Martin O’Neill’s Ireland squad for the Euros along with Shay Given and Darren Randolph, even though he has had to deny claims that he turned his back on his country.

He has not played for the Irish since June last year and his repeated absence from international get-togethers led to suggestions that he did not want to travel away for ten days to sit on the bench.

He said: “But I wasn't playing every week for Sheffield Wednesday. I missed maybe 12 games this year with carrying injuries since my second day of pre-season. I only really got fully-fit in February.

“I've kept 14 clean sheets in 35 or 37 games this year. If you look, I'd be quite confident in saying most of my clean sheets came after January, when I was fit.

“With the national games in November, especially the play-offs and stuff, I couldn't do anything about being injured.”

Westwood is determined to enjoy the Euros after suffering the dejection of play-off heartache already.

The former Carlisle man said: “No matter who you are - you could be the hardest, strongest man in the world - but to come that close is really heartbreaking, especially with all those fans there. We had over 40,000, I think.

“It was a great game to play in and I can always look back on my career and say I played in the richest game in football - £175m, maybe £200m. It's a little feather in my cap, but we were beaten, which is an absolute killer.”