Given hopes to kick on at Villa
SHAY GIVEN has warned Aston Villa's Premier League rivals that the Ireland keeper and his team-mate Richard Dunne plan to carry their stunning international form into the Premier League.
Dunne and Given came away with the plaudits from Tuesday's 0-0 draw in Moscow, a night when the Villa pair were vital figures for the Irish side, frustrating Russia time and again.
They're part of an Irish defence which overall has not conceded a goal in the last seven internationals, while on a personal level Given has not been beaten in an Ireland shirt since Norway scored in Dublin last year.
Given now turns his attention back to league form with Villa and a trip to Everton on Saturday and the bad news for Everton's forwards is that the Donegal intends to carry on that mean streak.
“It's great to be playing and even |better to be playing with Richard Dunne with Ireland and with the club. We have a good relationship and a good understanding of each other, we showed that in Moscow and I'd like to think we'll do it again against Everton,” Given told the Herald.
“It won't be hard to switch off from the Ireland game and get back to normal in the Premier League.
“It was great being away with |Ireland for the last week but now I just can't wait for the Everton game tomorrow.
“The games are coming thick and fast now, we've just finished up with Ireland but it won't be long now before we're back in Dublin getting ready for the game away to Andorra.
“I'm not complaining about having so many games, after all that I've gone through in the last year or two with injury and everything else, I'm happy to be playing at all,” added Given.
The season has started well for the Lifford man and his new club.
Villa have conceded just once in three Premier League games – in a 3-1 win over Given's former club Blackburn – and also moved into the next round of the Carling Cup with a 2-0 win over Hereford.
“It could be a good season for Villa. We've been strong at the back and haven't conceded many, so long may it continue,” added Given.
“We could still do with a few more players in the squad but if we can keep everyone fit then we have a decent chance this season.”
Meanwhile, Villa boss Alex McLeish says that forgotten man Stephen Ireland can still force his way into the team at Villa Park. The Cork-born player has played in just one of Villa's four games this season, a League Cup win over Hereford, and overall Ireland has made just 13 appearances since he joined the club in 2010.
“It can change,” said McLeish of Ireland's current spell out in the cold.
“Stephen could come off the bench, score a wonder goal, make a couple of great passes and all of a sudden you're thinking about him for the next game.
“That's how it can work in football. You're looking for people to impact right away and put themselves up for the cup in terms of selection.
“He's not played much for a couple of years and I think he's still building on his conditioning side of things, getting the muscles to a certain condition so that he can get back to the Stephen Ireland that we all remember from a couple of years ago.”