Given back in the groove at Villa

Alan Foley

Reporter:

Alan Foley

Shay Given was content to get back playing after making his first appearance for Aston Villa in six weeks in Saturday’s 1-1 Barclay’s Premier League draw with Everton at Villa Park.

Shay Given was content to get back playing after making his first appearance for Aston Villa in six weeks in Saturday’s 1-1 Barclay’s Premier League draw with Everton at Villa Park.

The Lifford native suffered a hamstring injury in early December and was forced to watch the busy Christmas series from the sidelines. However, his return on Saturday was impressive as the 35-year-old made a number of fine saves just five months ahead of the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2012 campaign in Poland, where Croatia, Spain and Italy will provide the opposition.

“It’s nice to be back playing first and foremost, and nice to make a few saves as well,” he said following the Everton fixture. I’m not a very good patient and I thank the medical team here for getting me fit - it’s on the pitch where you want to be.”

Victor Anichebe came off the bench to earn Everton a point as Villa’s poor home form continued. Darren Bent opened the scoring for the hosts with a scuffed finish from Stephen Ireland’s pass in the 56th minute.

In fact, it was Alex McLeish’s team’s first point at home in five matches, following losses against United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Swansea. Given, though, insisted there is no mental block among his teammates about playing at Villa Park.

“We are privileged to play at Villa Park in front of passionate fans,” he said. “Players have to take that on board and rise to that. We had lost the last four at home before today which was a big disappointment. At least we stopped that on Saturday.

“But being 1-0 ahead we would have liked to have finished with the three points. We are disappointed in the manner of the goal because it was our corner and they broke away too easy. That is disappointing. The fans just want to see us win as the players do. We have to try to turn Villa Park into a bit of a fortress again and make it difficult for teams to play here.”