Shay Given: Tim Sherwood has put Aston Villa's number one job up for grabs

The veteran goalkeeper has his sights set on reclaiming his old starting role from Brad Guzan.

Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given claims that new manager Tim Sherwood has told him that the club’s starting job is up for grabs, the Herald has reported.

Given, 38, was speaking following the club’s 2-0 FA Cup win at West Bromwich Albion, in which the Irish shot-stopper was handed a rare start with incumbent number one Brad Guzan rested.

The Republic of Ireland international has been restricted to cup action since losing his place in the side to Guzan at the start of the 2012-13 campaign and spent three months on loan at Middlesbrough last season, such was his desperation for first-team football.

After coming out of international retirement in August, the former Newcastle United keeper remains eager to win back his place in Martin O’Neill’s side but needs regular minutes to fight off competition from both Milwall’s David Forde and Sheffield Wednesday’s Kieran Westwood.

Nevertheless, after a solid performance against the Baggies, Given believes he has made a big statement to Sherwood and hopes to have persuaded his former Blackburn Rovers teammate to hand him more opportunities moving forward.

"Tim has told me that the jersey is up for grabs and that you have to go and put on a show when you get a chance, to show him that I am still capable of playing in the Premier League as well,” he is reported to have told NewsTalk.

"It's a tough one, especially for myself as I have always played in my career, I have played at every club I have been with. It's not ideal but if anything, this Cup run has given me something to work on and focus on.

"Even being back with the Irish squad as well, as I know we have a big qualifier coming up. If I do play well in these Cup games, into the semi-final, maybe it gives Martin O'Neill a bit of a headache come the end of the month."

Given’s contract isn’t set to expire until the summer of 2016 but, with Guzan establishing himself as one of the Premier League’s top keepers over the past few seasons, it’s hard to imagine the Irishman being able to fulfil his first-team ambitions at Villa, regardless of what Sherwood might have told him.

That said, the former Tottenham Hotspur boss is far from the most predictable of operators and, considering his past relationship with Given, perhaps a full-time return between the Villa posts isn’t so farfetched a proposition after all.

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