'I've been building to this for 10 years'
Given reveals injury anxiety but says he's winning fitness battle for opener
THERE'S nothing quite like the sight of Shay Given throwing himself around a football pitch to restore a feeling of calm.
Better still when John O'Shea is doing something similar if a little less athletic. Giovanni Trapattoni's two big injury worries finally gave it a full lash in training and, touch wood, all looks good.
"I feel fine. It was just good to get out there, to be honest. It feels like I've sort of been boxed off for the last week or so. It just feels great to be out there, flying around like an idiot," said Given with the type of big beaming smile which settles nerves.
"It's so frustrating to be sitting out, because you get bored in the hotel and you can get that out of your system getting out for a couple of hours doing your job and having fun.
"When you can't do that it's tedious sometimes, so it's nice to be back out there with the lads. It's where you want to be," he said.
"This was the main test for me and it was totally fine. The proof is in the pudding when you can train like that and dive around with no problems and you're happy in your head as well.
"We've been building up to this for so long and you're always worried, of course. I was worried, yes.
"We've been building up to this for the last 10 years to get into this position and then in the second day of training you get a bit of an injury to your knee. That's football sometimes.
"We've seen players in the past who have missed major tournaments, so thank God it's not serious. I went to London last week just to get a second opinion because the specialist had seen it before and he was happy with it, so that gives you peace of mind as well. Lazarus is back!" he said with a guffaw.
Given is keen to turn training into match action and will be knocking on Trapattoni's door for a place in the starting line-up against Hungary in Budapest on Monday.
"I hope to play on Monday. I haven't spoken to the manager yet, but I imagine he'll just monitor training for the next few days, but I'd like to play, of course I would."
Given shared the sense of sadness felt by all when Kevin Foley was cut from the squad but he was quick to point out that one man does not make a squad.
"It's been the serious stuff since we met up. It was tough on Tuesday for one of our colleagues and a tough decision, I'm sure, for the manager as well, but we all move on together.
"I'm sure Kevin will be at home supporting the team. We all want Ireland to do well. If it was me that wasn't playing and Westy was playing then I'd be the same. It's not about an individual, it's about the team and the nation.
"It's not about any individual. We're sorry that a couple of the players have missed out, Keith Fahey the week before and now Kevin, and it's tough for the players who don't make it, but there are other players who are out of the squad who weren't even called up at the start."
"But I'm sure that wherever they are, they're all with us. We know that the whole nation is behind us and that's important.
Does an event like that make you stronger?
"If we can get any stronger, maybe. We are a tight-knit group generally anyway, you know. As I say, it's a tough decision for the manager to make but that's what he gets paid for. He's made tough decisions in his career before and I'm sure he'll make them again in the future.
"I'm excited now. It's been in the back of my mind all season, every single training session and every single game, you're building up to this. And it's getting really close now. Even talking about it, the hairs are starting to stand up on the back of my neck. I know how big it's going to be and you just want to be part of it.
"You're risking yourself every time you go out for training. You don't worry about things like that. If it's not meant to be, it's not meant to be, but you've got to get on with it. Hopefully I'll be playing against Hungary and then train all next week. I wouldn't want Croatia to be my first game. You've got to test it like I did out there today, test it all week, test it against Hungary, that's what you do."