Aston Villa's Shay Given stresses his need for more first-team football

Shay Given

The veteran goalkeeper believes he won't be able to win back his starting spot with the Republic of Ireland without regular minutes.

Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given has conceded in an interview with AVTV that he needs to be playing regular first-team football to reclaim the number one spot with the Republic of Ireland.

After announcing his international retirement following Euro 2012, Given made a surprise return to the setup in August and has since gone on to start friendlies against Oman and the USA.

However, the veteran shot-stopper has so far failed to oust Milwall’s David Forde from the first-choice line-up and, having been confined to the Villa bench since the start of the 2012-13 season, will be unable to prove his worth as long as Brad Guzan sticks around.

The 126-times capped keeper has impressed when given the chance to start in cup games, helping Tim Sherwood’s side progress to the FA Cup semi-finals, but, with Ireland manager Martin O’Neill telling him that he needs to see more regular action, one wonders if he might look to move on in the summer in order to keep his international dreams alive.

“Ideally, I need to be playing more to be first-choice with Ireland but it’s great to be working with Martin O’Neill again and Roy Keane, of course,” said Given.

“It was a bit strange [coming back] but I still believe I’ve got lots to offer. I think maybe I initially retired too soon from Ireland and you don’t want to look back on your career with regrets.

“I felt maybe I might have regretted it if I hadn’t gone back but at the minute I’m not playing enough club football so it’s a tricky one.

“David Forde’s the number one at the moment and Kieran Westwood’s playing regularly at Sheffield Wednesday as well.

“Ideally I need to be playing more games to be pushing those two.”

Now aged 38, Given could be forgiven for contemplating retirement at this point but the former Newcastle United favourite insists the thought hasn’t even crossed his mind and believes he can keep his career going well into his 40s.

“With sports science and stuff, and all the different supplements and protein shakes – stuff we didn’t have 20 years ago, I think the game has moved on and players do play a lot longer, especially goalkeepers,” he added.

Nevertheless, with his contract running until the summer of 2016, one wouldn't bet on him spending much of the twilight of his career at Villa Park moving forward.

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