Former Newcastle favourite Shay Given relishing return with Aston Villa

Saturday's trip to Newcastle United is one the Aston Villa goalkeeper is especially looking forward to.

Goalkeeper Shay Given has told Aston Villa’s official website of his excitement ahead of Saturday’s return to former club Newcastle United for their Premier League clash.

Given, 38, made 462 total appearances for Newcastle between 1997 and 2009, establishing himself as one of the league’s top shot-stoppers, before leaving for big-spending Manchester City just 34 games from breaking Jimmy Lawrence’s long-standing club record.

The Republic of Ireland international returns to the North East this week for Tim Sherwood’s first game in charge on the road but, while he is looking forward to seeing familiar faces, he would rather witness his current club bounce back from the last-gasp 2-1 defeat to Stoke.

"I'll always look forward to going back to Newcastle,” he said. "I was there for nearly 12 years of my life. It's one of the venues I obviously really enjoy returning to.

"I'll always have fond memories going back to St James' Park. I'm relishing this weekend and I'd love to go up there and play with Villa.

"It's a special place to play football and the fans were great to me over the years there. We need the win - and I know Newcastle fans won't be happy to hear me say that!

"It's a great place but come matchday it's all about the three points for us. I want to win the game and get the victory."

Given has been confined to the Villa bench for the past three campaigns due to the fine form of Brad Guzan, and spent a 16-game loan spell at Championship side Middlesbrough during the second half of last season.

After a man of the match performance in the recent 2-1 FA Cup win over Leicester, some had suggested that the incoming Sherwood could look to hand his former Blackburn Rovers teammate back the number one spot, but that hasn’t proved the case thus far.

Regardless, with Villa now in 19th-place following a run of just two wins in 22 top-flight games, whoever starts between the posts for the remaining 12 fixtures will need to be at their best in order to help keep the club from the drop.

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