Keiren Westwood has admitted he may have to consider leaving Sunderland if he is to regain his Republic of Ireland place.
The 28-year-old assumed Shay Given's mantle when he announced his retirement from international football after the Euro 2012 finals. However, his lack of action at the Stadium of Light, where he is deputy to Belgium's highly-rated Simon Mignolet, has seen him lose the number one spot to David Forde.
Manager Giovanni Trapattoni has left Westwood in little doubt that he needs to be playing for his club to get back into the Ireland team. Asked if he was open to a move, the former Coventry keeper said: "I'm not too sure. I love it at Sunderland, but if I'm not going to play.It's a tough decision, but I need to play football, I think that's evident in itself."
He added: "I have sort of taken a - I won't say backward step. Sunderland is a fantastic club and I think I've improved since I've been there.
"But not playing is a right disaster for me, I'm not going to lie."
Westwood was keen to secure a move in January in a desperate search for football, but his hopes were dashed by then manager Martin O'Neill's decision to keep him on Wearside.
He said: "He kept me around and I can understand why he did because to have two goalkeepers of good quality, so to speak, is a must for a Premier League squad.
"The manager, I think, was more nervous in case anything happened to Simon. He couldn't really let me go, which was a disaster, really, because it's not gone well for me since.
"I haven't played any games and I lost my place here as well. It's tough. I'm not going to lie, at times you are in a dark place and you are on your own.
"Obviously as a footballer, you want to play football and if you don't play, it's mentally challenging, I'm not going to lie."