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Aston Villa keeper Shay Given open to MLS move

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Aston Villa's Shay Given says he'd be open to a move to MLS at some point in the future, having been impressed by the growth of the league in recent seasons.

Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given says he’d be open to a move to MLS in the future, following the club’s pre-season tour of Texas, which saw them face FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo.

Given has made 440 Premier League appearances since his debut for Blackburn Rovers in 1996-97, going on to establish himself as one of the top-flight’s premiere shot-stoppers between spells at Newcastle United and Manchester City, respectively, before moving to Villa in 2011.

However, the Republic of Ireland international has been confined to the bench since losing the number one role to Brad Guzan at the start of the 2012-13 campaign, spending three months of last season on loan at Middlesbrough, where he impressed in 16 Championship starts.

Now 38, and with a contract which runs until 2016, Given is content with life as Villa’s backup for the moment but has stressed that he’s still on the lookout for first-team football, admitting that MLS could be an option, whether in the immediate future or further down the line.

‘I wouldn’t rule it out. All of the stadiums are first-class now and the standard is improving every year,’ he told ESPN Soccer Today. ‘They’ve got the new Manchester City-owned franchise in New York as well. The league’s getting bigger and stronger, so who knows what the future holds.

Asked if players in Europe were starting to notice MLS, Given was similarly positive about its growing reputation among his peers, adding that his long-time international teammate Robbie Keane, currently starring for the LA Galaxy, had vouched for the league’s rising standard.

‘I think so, especially when you see someone like David Villa going over. Obviously Thierry Henry’s already there too, and Robbie Keane’s a great friend of mine. He’s still banging in the goals and loves it over there, and is enjoying the way of life and his football.’

His career winding down, Given may not have many more chances to make the move stateside but, after proving that he’s far from finished at Boro last season, the 125-times capped Irishman would be sure to have some potential suitors if he did opt to explore MLS opportunities.

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