Shay’s Team Return Not a Given

Shay Given has answered Ireland’s call and made himself available once more for international selection but Giovanni Trapattoni has issued a cautious welcome in another sign that the Italian may be embracing change.

Given, who has been forced to watch from the bench as Aston Villa ship heavy defeats, wrote in his column for The Sun newspaper that he is ready to return if needed. However, his comeback won’t happen when Poland visit the Aviva Stadium next month.

The goalkeeping legend spoke at length with Giovanni Trapattoni but the manager is sticking with Keiren Westwood for the upcoming friendly and while he welcomes Given’s decision,  the under-fire Irish boss looks set to continue his overhaul of the squad and give youth its chance.

“I explained that since the Euros I have placed a big emphasis on giving experience to the new players. And that is something I feel I have to do for the February friendly, when I intend to give other senior players a break and give younger players experience.”

“I called Shay to catch up. He told me that I can count on him if I need him, like he said after the Euros.”

“As I said before though, it means a lot that Shay would be available to us again.”

Given is aware that his decision to return will not guarantee his place between the posts for the Boys in Green. Despite Aston Villa’s disastrous defensive displays, goalkeeper Brad Guzan has earned plenty of plaudits which has seen Given confined to Cup appearances.

Ireland’s current number one, Keiren Westwood, may be forced to leave Sunderland in January to keep hold of that Republic shirt as he has been unable to break into Martin O’Neill’s plans.

Given’s impending return has not been met with universal approval among Irish fans. By his own impeccably high standards, the Lifford native under-performed at Euro 2012 and many of the Green Army want Trapattoni to continue sweeping out the old guard.

A poll run by shows a majority do not want to see Given back as Ireland’s first choice.

The man himself has stressed he doesn’t intend making life uncomfortable for Ireland’s current ‘keeping options but is on call should injuries arise.

“Keiren Westwood, David Forde and Darren Randolph are the goalkeepers in the frame for that game. I wish them well. I am not looking to stand on their toes. But, as I told Giovanni, I am here if one of them gets injured.”

Time will tell if Trapattoni sticks with the younger players who’ve featured against Germany, the Faroes, and Greece, the likes of Westwood, Coleman, Brady and McCarthy, or reverts to type by naming the established elder statesmen of the squad.

With the manager’s neck on the line, Given’s return may have made Trap’s mind up to call up some old hands.


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