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Thursday 19 October 2017

No deal in place forGiven in Georgia

MARTIN O'Neill has shrugged aside any suggestion that there is a deal in place to hand Shay Given the Ireland goalkeeper's jersey for the Euro 2016 opener against Georgia in Tblisi on Sunday.

But he has admitted that Given (below) is in with a shout of a start against Georgia and he will leave his decision on who will start between the posts until the last moment.

"I don't think I will make that decision until sometime about two hours before Georgia," he said, guaranteeing an extra focus from his goalkeepers in the coming week.

"Shay still has the desire to come and play. But no promises have been made whatsoever. He's going to come here for a few days and Aston Villa have given him permission to do so and I'll have a look at it," said O'Neill.

"David Forde has never let me down. I thought he was excellent against Italy, he had the occasional moment in the match against Portugal but at the end of it, fine. "

O'Neill continues to pursue dual nationality options and admitted that he has held talks with Mark Noble's agent.

"I'd spoken to his agent some time ago when I heard about the connection. At that stage he was wanting to consider it."

"I would have thought at that stage, when I first spoke about the connection with the agent, that his England career wasn't going anywhere. That was my own view. I didn't know he had this massive disappointment about not being picked (for England). I've not had any further talks with the agent. "

When asked whether he would make contact again, he said: "We'll see."

O'Neill has no major injury concerns. Marc Wilson, Jon Walters and Wes Hoolahan had precautionary scans which came out clear and while James McClean's ankle is tender, he did non-contact training for an hour and should be fine for Georgia.

Worries about Robbie Keane centre around a groin injury but the expectation is that he will be fit in time for next Sunday's Euro 2016 opener.

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