Brad Guzan takes diplomatic approach to Aston Villa's FA Cup goalkeeping dilemma

With Shay Given starting reach round so far, the American keeper accepts it's up to manager Tim Sherwood to decide who starts in the semi-final at Wembley Stadium.

Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan has admitted to Soccer Morning that he would be keen to play in next month’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium but isn't going to force the matter.

Backup Shay Given has been handed the chance to start in each round so far, with the 38-year-old Irishman putting in a string of impressive performances, including in the 2-0 quarter-final win over West Bromwich Albion, to help the club reach the final four of the competition.

With a tie against either Liverpool or Blackburn Rovers awaiting, manager Tim Sherwood now faces a dilemma over whether to reinstate his usual number one for the big occasion or continue to reward Given for his contributions to their cup success.

Guzan himself was in a similar situation to his teammate during the 2009-10 season as Brad Freidel’s number two, having started throughout their run to the League Cup final before Martin O’Neill reinstated his compatriot for the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United.

Five seasons later, it’s understandable that he’d want the chance to make up for that disappointment, but the US international concedes that the decision is Sherwood’s to make.

“It’s not too often that players and teams get to not only play at Wembley but have the chance to get to a cup final,” he said. “The FA Cup is obviously a huge competition and going forward, in terms of whether I play or not, I don’t know. That’s up to the manager.

“We have a lot of league games before then and those are obviously going to take priority before we get to the semi-final, but once we’re there we’re going to be completely focused and give ourselves every opportunity to go and play in the final.”

Villa’s FA Cup success has been a welcome distraction from their dismal league form, with a record of just three wins in 24 top-flight matches landing them in a relegation battle with 10 games remaining.

A 2-1 win in the opening clash of their West Brom double-header saw Sherwood pick up his first three points since taking charge, however, and also lifted the team out of the drop zone into 17th place.

Consecutive victories have now given the atmosphere around the club a noticeable boost ahead of the weekend’s trip to Sunderland, and Guzan believes the new boss deserves all the plaudits for the recent turnaround.

“When a new manager comes in, there tends to be a bit of a lift around the team and the squad just from his presence and then, on top of that, he’s come in and allowed players to go and play with freedom,” the keeper said.

“Certain players react differently to different situations and I think now, after back-to-back wins, that gives confidence to attacking players.

“It’s no secret that we’ve struggled to score goals this year and winning those two games, in the way we did, will give them a lot of confidence going forward and hopefully that can continue.

“It wasn’t too long ago that he was playing and he understands what it takes to be a player in this league and what it takes to survive,” he continued on Sherwood. “He knows the situation that we’re in, as we all do, and that’s about trying to keep Aston Villa in the Premier League.

“He does that by giving encouragement at the right moments and he’s not afraid to let guys know when it’s not good enough. I think that’s important. You need that. It keeps guys on their toes and it hopefully keeps guys performing at their best.”

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