Defender says Shay will bring 'experience and quality'
JOHN O'SHEA has welcomed back Shay Given with open arms and believes that his return will help counter the gap left behind by Richard Dunne.
Helping spread the message among the grass-roots yesterday at Lucan United's fine complex as part of the McDonald's Future Football hook-up with the FA O'Shea believes that Martin O'Neill now has some serious competition for the goalkeeper's position.
"It's a surprised but I'm delighted at the same time. Losing Richard's experience and quality was a blow, but to have someone like Shay coming in will obviously help the group," said O'Shea.
O'Shea believes that for a tough away tie in a place like Tbilisi, Given's experience will be very important whether he plays or not.
"We're going to a tough destination and Shay will be important for that situation. He brings experience and quality," he said.
He has no concerns about the gap between Given's last international at Euro 2014 against Italy and this outing against Georgia.
"He obviously thought when he packed it up he would play more than he has done. He's spoken to Martin about it," he said. "We've named four goalkeepers in the squad. Westie (Westwood) has done very well at Sheffield Wednesday; Forde done fantastic since he's been in at number one. It's all good in that sense, it's great competition.
"If we could have that in every department, that would be brilliant. Overall, I'm delighted, it's brilliant to have him."
O'Neill's decision to bring Given back is a result of a nine month assessment of the players he has available. The call on bringing him back in appears to have been as much down to Roy Keane as anyone else.
O'Neill showed up at Villa's Capital One Cup game against Orient last Tuesday unannounced and was clearly happy with what he saw.
There is no confirmation that he intends to start him in Tbilisi but presumably, whoever starts against Oman in the friendly at the Aviva on Wednesday will also line-out in Ireland's first qualifier.
O'Neill is still busy trawling through Ireland's exiled generations with Mark Noble his latest target and O'Shea a has a very clear idea about how that should play out.
In a clear message to lads Noble and Aston Villa's young prospect Jack Grealish, O'Shea wants clarity.
"It's very simple. If they want to come and play, and they're able to. It's not just Ireland that does it. There are so many other countries around the world, never mind in Europe, that do it," he said.
"If the players want to come and play, show they want to play and turn up when selected, get behind them the minute they pull on the jersey.
"It's always been the case. Just don't hem and haw about it. Or to use one of my father's phrases, dilly-dally. Don't do that because, first off, it probably gets you off to a bad start with the fans and all that kind of situation. Declare yourself for Ireland and, if selected, come and do your stuff."
Looking forward to next Sunday in Tbilisi and Ireland's Euro 2016 opener against Georgia, O'Shea is happy that O'Neill has had plenty of time to prepare.
"Since the lads have come in (O'Neill/Keane), we've played a lot of friendlies which has given Martin the chance to see the quality of players up close, such as Wes Hoolahan. Those kind of lads that the manager was aware of but probably not fully aware of the quality they had. He's fully aware of them now," he said.
"There are one or two lads with injuries. I just saw that Jeff (Hendrick) got injured. What a start to the season he's had, someone like him going into an away game like that, our first qualifier away from home, someone who's scoring goals, could have been vital for us.
"That's disappointing for us but it will be a chance for somebody else.
"The game against Oman will be important in the sense that some of the lads, I'm thinking of say Darron Gibson in particular, can get football under their belt.
"Stephen Ward has gone to Burnley but not been able to get as many minutes. So in that sense, it's proved a great stroke to have that game before we head off to Georgia."