Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given anticipating Wembley start

The Villa backup believes he'll keep his FA Cup place for next month's semi-final against Liverpool or Blackburn Rovers after starting in each previous round.

Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given expects to start next month’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium against either Liverpool or Blackburn Rovers.

Given, 38, was speaking to reporters after training with the Republic of Ireland, who he is also hoping to start for in the weekend’s vital Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland in Dublin, after coming out of international retirement in September.

The 127-times capped shot-stopper has been forced to backup Brad Guzan at Villa over the past few seasons, aside from spending a three-month loan spell at Middlesbrough last term, with his opportunities to impress restricted to cup games.

His lack of first-team action has left his chances of reclaiming the Ireland number one spot in the balance but, after featuring in each round of Villa’s run to the FA Cup’s final four, is hoping his performances will have been enough to convince manager Martin O’Neill of his worth.

Whether he gets the chance to start in the upcoming semi still isn’t definite either, with the magnitude of the occasion giving Tim Sherwood the dilemma over whether to reinstate Guzan.

Given has his veteran fingers crossed, though, telling the press: “The more games you play obviously the better, but the games I have played in I feel I’ve done well.

“I’ve felt pretty sharp. I’ve made big saves in all the games I’ve been involved in as well and we’re into the semi-final now, which is great for the club and all the supporters.

“He’s [Sherwood’s] not said for definite yet but I’ve played every game so I imagine I’ll play. Fingers crossed.”

Given could, however, find himself in a similar situation to teammate Guzan, who was backup to compatriot Brad Friedel during the 2009-10 season, when he started throughout Villa’s run to the League Cup final.

The current first-choice had expected to be given the nod for the match against Manchester United as a result but then-manager O’Neill instead opted to reinstate Friedel for the 2-1 defeat.

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