Given handed instant return

Given will return for Saturday’s home clash with Everton after

recovering from a hamstring problem despite the “magnificent” form

of deputy Brad Guzan.

Robbie Keane will be on the bench against the Toffees after

joining Villa on loan from Los Angeles Galaxy until the end of

February.

McLeish admits it was a tough decision to axe American

international Guzan and that “football is cruel at times.”

But he is adamant that Given is his number one goalkeeper and he

will be restored to the side after recovering from the injury

suffered against Manchester United on December 3.

McLeish said: “Shay will go back between the sticks and we

explained to Brad that he (Given) is our number one keeper.

“Brad has been magnificent. It’s the first time I’ve had a

chance to see him in high profile games and I’ve been really

delighted.

“He understood my decision. He didn’t like it and he didn’t

necessarily agree, but he’s a proper gentleman.

“I communicated with him, I wasn’t going to drop it on him five

minutes before kick-off. There’s a mutual respect there and I think

he’s earned that respect.”

McLeish added: “Throughout my managerial career I’ve made tough

decisions, some even tougher than this.

“I had two goalkeepers at Rangers who were top goalkeepers and I

was juggling between those two as they had both lost a bit of

form.

“That was probably as hard a decision as I’ve ever had to make.

It’s the hardest part of being a manager.”

McLeish knows it could now be more difficult to retain the

services of Guzan, whose contract runs out this summer.

He said: “Maybe it will be harder to keep Brad. It will be up to

him and his advisors. But the club want him. That’s the main

thing.”

McLeish also confirmed the role he has earmarked for 31-year-old

Keane, who has impressed him in training.

He said: “It is more likely that he will make an impact like

Thierry Henry did for Arsenal so Robbie won’t start. He’ll just

come on and score instead! I’ve told him that.

“His enthusiasm is there for all to see and he would be

desperate to start.

“But I have to be fair to my own players and those who are here

for the long term. I don’t think any of them have done too much

wrong.”