Given won’t settle for bench role

At a Republic of Ireland press conference looking ahead to
Wednesday’s friendly with Argentina, Given made it clear he is not
prepared to play second fiddle this season. Hart was outstanding
during a season-long loan at Birmingham last season, to such an
extent that Roberto Mancini has refused to allow the 23 -year-old
to join another club on a similar basis. That has opened the debate
as to whether Hart or Given will receive the nod for Saturday’s
Premier League curtain-raiser at White Hart Lane. At the age of 34,
Given knows his career for both club and country are on the line
and that he has to be playing first-team football with one to
further his longevity with the other. “We will have to wait until
lunchtime on Saturday when the manager picks the team to see who
starts in goal,” said Given, who has been linked with Arsenal and
Fulham of late due to the uncertainty. “Obviously I hope to start,
but it’s inevitable there is going to be speculation because I know
Joe is also a top ‘keeper. “The manager will decide, and whoever he
starts with you would feel that is who he would mostly want to play
in the big games. “If I don’t start then I’ll sit down with the
club next week and see where my future lies, and maybe vice-versa
with Joe, because we will both feel we should be playing. “Ideally
I’d like to stay at the club because it’s a big club to be at, a
very ambitious club with fantastic owners. “I want to be part of
it, which is why I joined in the first place. “If I don’t start I
guess it’s an advantage the transfer window will still be open.
“Maybe I’ll go out on loan, come back and see where that takes me.
“But I know I’m at a stage where I need to be playing. I’m 34, and
I’ve not got millions of years left.” Given fully believes Hart
will start for England in their friendly against Hungary at Wembley
on Wednesday. That in turn would lead to its own pressures as
England manager Fabio Capello would want Hart to be a first-team
regular with City. “There’s so much stuff in England at the moment
regarding Joe and the England goalkeeping situation,” added Given.
“I don’t know if that would influence the manager, you would need
to ask him, but I do understand. “I’m sure Joe will play on
Wednesday, so the situation is an interesting one.” Asked whether
he feels Hart will become England number one, Given replied: “Only
if he’s playing, which is the same for me because I need to be
playing every week to be with the Ireland team.” For now Given at
least has an historic occasion to look forward to as the Republic
play their first match at the new 50,000-seater Aviva Stadium this
week. The stadium was built on the site of their old spiritual home
Lansdowne Road and throws open its doors for the prestigious visit
of managerless Argentina. They may no longer be without their
colourful character of a boss in Diego Maradona after the
Argentinian football association decided not to renew his contract
in the wake of their 4-0 World Cup quarter-final defeat to Germany.
But that does not lessen the occasion for Given who added: “He’s a
legend, someone who everyone bows to, and rightly so because he was
a fantastic player. “It’s a shame he’s not there, but Argentina
still have many world- class players and when you play Argentina
it’s a special game. “They were one of my favourites for the World
Cup, and were unlucky not to have gone a bit further. “But it’s the
start of a new era for us as we’re playing at the new stadium, one
I’ve not even seen yet. “I’m going there tomorrow for the first
time, and it looks pretty special when you see the pictures and TV
shots.” Defender Richard Dunne and striker Kevin Doyle are boss
Giovanni Trapattoni’s main doubts after sitting out training today
with knee and calf injuries respectively.