Given will play against Blackburn

Alan Foley

Reporter:

Alan Foley

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has declared goalkeeper Shay Given fit to play in Saturday’s Premier League encounter against Blackburn Rovers at Villa Park.

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has declared goalkeeper Shay Given fit to play in Saturday’s Premier League encounter against Blackburn Rovers at Villa Park.

The Lifford native suffered a slight groin strain during his man of the match performance against Fulham at Craven Cottage on his debut for the midlands club in a 0-0 draw last weekend. Given’s miscomfort was evident when he passed on the duties of goal-kicks to central defender James Collins in west London.

“He’s on the mend,” McLeish said of his goalkeeper. “He should be OK for the weekend. We’re just going to let his groin settle down and he’ll be training Thursday.

Shay knows his own body at the age of 35 and if he doesn’t know it now then he’ll never know it. That’s the measure of his experience.”

McLeish was delighted with the performance of Given during his first Premier League appearance in 16 months, since dislocating his shoulder for former employers Manchester City against Arsenal and then losing his place in the first team at Eastlands.

“You see some goalkeepers trying to read it and diving the same way and things like that but Shay was absolutely spot on at the weekend,” McLeish added. “His reading of the game is terrific. He’s still got the reaction times that sometimes a goalkeeper needs in that split second when he’s making a save. It’s all about reactions.

“I hope we don’t have to rely on Shay in every single game. But certainly we know that great goalkeepers are worth their weight in gold in terms of extra points. They’ll tell you that from the very top of the division right throughout. Edwin Van der Sar for many years was a world class goalkeeper and that was because he helped his team win titles by saving them 15 to 20 points a season.”