Given in line to make Aston Villa debut tonight

Alan Foley

Reporter:

Alan Foley

Shay Given could make his Aston Villa debut tonight in a friendly against Walsall after signing a five-year deal for the midlands club on Monday.

Shay Given could make his Aston Villa debut tonight in a friendly against Walsall after signing a five-year deal for the midlands club on Monday.

The 35-year-old goalkeeper became Alex McLeish’s first signing at Villa Park and the new manager has hailed the 113-times goalkeeper as “world class.”

Given has not played a Premier League game in 16 months since suffering a dislocated shoulder and then losing his place in the Manchester City first-team to England international Joe Hart at the start of last season.

Given suffered another shoulder injury in February and his frustrating campaign at Eastlands saw him line out in the first-team on just five occasions with appearances in the Uefa Europa League and the Carling Cup.

“Everyone knows that I didn’t play enough football last season, so I’m really pleased that I’ll be able to put that right here,” Given said on his arrival in Birmingham. “Hopefully, this move will get me back to where I was before in the Premier League, which is where every player wants to be playing.

“Aston Villa is a huge football club and I’m really excited to be joining. I’m looking forward to training and playing with the players here. They’re a good bunch of lads, very talented and I know several of them already which will help.

“Obviously, I’m also excited to be working with Alex McLeish and it’s going to be a fresh start for everybody at the club this season. It’s also a new challenge and one I’m eager to embrace.

“Shay has come here probably with something of a point to prove and that won’t do any harm at all,” McLeish said of his first recruit. “Everybody who has watched him perform over many years in the Premier League will know his pedigree, so we believe we have secured the services of one of the best goalkeepers in the business. He’s a real competitor and a world-class keeper and I’m delighted he’s the first signing I’ve made at Villa.”

Given will also be on his travels next week when Villa compete in the two years in the Barclay’s Asia Trophy in Hong Kong. Villa play fellow Premier League side Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday, while Chelsea and Hong Kong First Division League champions Kitchee play in the other semi-final of the four-team knock-out competition.