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Sunday 4 December 2016

Shay Given: I've pulled FA Cup devastation behind me

Shay Given is a doubt for the FA Cup final after missing Sunday's 1-0 defeat to Burnley with a groin problem
Shay Given is a doubt for the FA Cup final after missing Sunday's 1-0 defeat to Burnley with a groin problem

ONE OF the nasty side-effects of the recent controversy over FIFA's €5million bribe/loan/present to the FAI (take your pick) is the fact that those involved on that evening in the French capital have had the pain of Paris brought back again.

Some images from the night linger in the memory - Thierry Henry and Richard Dunne sitting on the Stade de France turf at the end of the game, for all appearances having a quiet chat like two dads at a school barbecue

One image that's also still striking in the sight of Shay Given, running straight to the Swedish referee pointing at his arm (Given's not Martin Hansson's) to demonstrate that Henry had handled the ball.

Given's had to get used to handling disappointments (pardon the pun) and to stress that his mind is very much on Saturday's Euro 2016 clash with Scotland in Dublin, he maintains that his most recent disappointment, a heavy defeat in the FA Cup final two weeks ago with Aston Villa, is already gone.

"I think the Cup final defeat is out of my system now alright," Given told The Herald.

"To be honest, it was gone from the system when I woke up the following Monday morning, I have been around in the game long enough now to know that you have to move on, you can't wallow.

"I think that's why it was especially good for me to get some game time against England on Sunday.

"The main thing about Sunday was was we got a run-out and everyone came through it ok.

"On a personal level it was great to play, I played in the FA Cup final the previous week and it was good to get another game against England, even if it was only half an hour," added Given, who replaced Keiren Westwood for the final 30 minutes, the selection of Sheffield Wednesday man Westwood ahead of Given something of a surprise to everyone Given included.

The Donegal man is likely to start on Saturday but that's not a given for Given.

"I have no idea if I will play, all I can do is work hard in training and see what decision he makes," he said .

"Westie has had a great season and the manager picked him to start on Sunday, I've no idea who will be in the team," he admits, pleased his his role in keeping Englad scoreless.

"The clean sheet on Sunday was good, not just for the keeper and the back four but the whole team, everyone gets a good feeling from keeping a clean sheet, hopefully we get another clean sheet plus a few goals on Saturday," added Given.

"Of course it would have been better if we'd won the game, it wasn't an amazing match or anything like that but it was good for morale to get a clean sheet, I think the Scotland game was in the back of everyone's mind when we were playing England.

"The tempo in the English game was a bit slow, from both teams, I suppose the English players and ourselves were coming into to it after a long, hard season with our clubs."

Given expects to spend little time alanysing footbage of Scotland's weekend friendly, a win over Qatar.

"I don't think the two managers will bother too much about the weekend friendlies, I can't see Martin spending too much time looking at Scotland's win over Qatar and I don't imagine Gordon will be too stressed about looking at us against England," he says.

equal

"We all know each other, it's not like when you play Georgia and you don't know their team, their players, you know what's coming and Scotland know what's coming from us.

"The two teams are fairly equal and it will be a case of who plays best on the night.

"I know Aiden McGeady said last week that we had better players but I don't really agree, I think the two teams and squads are very even, you have some very good players on both sides.

"It's a 50/50 game, both teams are capable of winning it, we just have to make sure it's us but I certainly don't think they have a better squad than us.

"It was a moment of magic that won the game for them in Glasgow, these are the small margins that win and lose you the big games. Hopefully it will be us with the moment of magic on Saturday."

Scotland holds a place in Given's hearts as it was his first home when he moved abroad, on his traineeship with Celtic.

"Yeah, Scotland was my home for two years so I have a fondness for the place," he smiles.

"I have been a big Celtic supporter all my life and that'll never change, but that has no relevance to Saturday, it's a massive game for us and we have to win it. We're at home, we need this place rocking on Saturday evening."

Afitzmaurice@herald.ie

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