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Friday 1 August 2014

Frustrated Given takes solace in having main role in Villa's push for Wembley

IRELAND'S Shay Given has revealed that his role in helping Aston Villa to within two matches of the League Cup final at Wembley has stopped him from pursuing a move to a new club.

Aston Villa's goalkeeper will make only his seventh appearance of the campaign in the League Cup semi-final first leg at Valley Parade tonight, with manager Paul Lambert opting to use Brad Guzan as his first choice in the league.

His exile followed a miserable experience at Euro 2012 in which he played all three of the Republic of Ireland's games from which they failed to secure a single point.

"It's difficult when you don't play," said Given. "It is the manager who picks the team and for me, when I get the chance, it's important I remind the manager that there is still plenty of life left in me and still plenty of years left ahead of me.

"I'm not used to this position but these cup games have been important. Had we been knocked out in the first round of the League Cup, I might not have been so happy. Sometimes you have bad days like all people do.

"I can't say I'm quite happy to sit on the bench because I'm not. I want to play football, but it's the manager's choice and I've just got to try and impress him every time I get a chance. But Wembley is touching distance away so hopefully there are quite a few games coming up and hopefully I'll play my part."

Embarrassed

Given, and Villa, will not be assured of a comfortable evening, with Arsene Wenger suffering one of his most chastening experiences as Arsenal were knocked out on penalties last month. Bradford have also embarrassed Wigan Athletic in the competition this season.

Given will be returning to the club where he went for his first professional trial as a callow 15-year-old.

"It was the first team I ever went to when I left home," he said. "It went well, they wanted to sign me but I decided to go to Celtic. Frank Stapleton was the manager at the time and the captain was Dean Richards, who is no longer with us. It's good memories going back there and hopefully it will be good memories after the game because we know we are in for a big battle.

"Arsenal had their full strength team out there and were beaten so if we take it lightly we will get punished."

Lambert has been preaching the same message and is determined to deliver the club their first silverware since the League Cup win over Leeds United in 1996.

"For this club to get to Wembley again would be extraordinary," Lambert said. "In a one-off game there you just never know what could happen. It would surpass anything I've done before."

Christian Benteke is expected to start after the £7m signing was rested for Saturday's FA Cup tie against Ipswich.

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