Given keeps clean sheet in final appearance on Middlesbrough loan

Given keeps clean sheet in final appearance on Middlesbrough loan
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has not closed the door on the international future of Shay Given.

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has not closed the door on the international future of Shay Given.

The 125-times capped goalkeeper concluded his emergency loan at Middlesbrough on Saturday and has since returned to his parent club Aston Villa.

Given was not named in the Ireland squad for the international friendly against Serbia at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday, March 5.

“I’ve spoken to Shay,” O’Neill said last week. “I think he’s enjoyed it immensely at Middlesbrough, he’s playing first team football but that loan is due to end soon.

“I may be speaking out of turn, but I don’t think he feels there will be a place at Aston Villa. He has a choice at the end of the season and hopefully he will get himself involved.”

The 37-year-old goalkeeper had to return to the midlands after the Premier League club refused to grant a loan till the end of the season.

Emergency loans can last from a period of 28 days to 93 and Given was initially granted a one-month emergency in November as Middlesbrough’s Jason Steele was given a three-match suspension having been sent off against Leeds United. Steele has since been sidelined with an ankle injury.

Boro wanted to convert Given’s emergency loan into a half season loan in order to retain the experienced goalkeeper for the rest of the campaign but Villa will not allow him to stay all season is because such a deal would prevent them having a 24-hour recall clause.

Brad Guzan currently has Jed Steer as his deputy, but Villa would want to have Given as back up.

“I’d like to have stayed for the rest of the season but the decision was out of my hands. I’ve had a great time and loved every minute,” Given said.

“I’ve been delighted with the reaction from the fans as I didn’t know how my Newcastle connection would go down. “There’s always an element of trepidation when you join a new club but I couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome.”

The Lifford native enjoyed a fine spell at the Riveride Stadium, keeping 10 clean sheets in 16 appearances.

Killybegs native Seamus Coleman, who played in Everton’s 1-0 loss against Chelsea on Saturday, is in O’Neill’s squad for the friendly against Serbia.

On Sunday, Ireland learned their fate for the Euro 2016 qualifiers and will face Germany, Poland, Scotland, Georgia and Gibraltar for a place in France.