Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has admitted that he hopes goalkeeper Shay Given will stay at the club in January, despite reported interest from England and abroad.
Given was again an unused substitute as his teammates defeated his old club Newcastle United by three goals to one on St Stephen's Day and then again in Tuesday's 4-0 win over Aston Villa. The Lifford native has struggled to feature for City thus far this season with Mancini opting for Joe Hart as his first choice, although the Italian is still hoping Given will stay put. "I hope he can stay," Mancini said.
The services of the Republic of Ireland netminder have been well courted in recent weeks with Premier League Villa, Serie A side Roma and Leicester City from the Championship the latest to be linked with the 34-year-old after it was previously rumoured that Celtic, Fulham, Manchester United and Arsenal were interested. It is believed than any move in the transfer window, which opens on Saturday, would be a loan.
Gerard Houllier is understood to wish to sign Given to provide the backbone of his Villa Park revolution. Houllier could be the busiest Premier League manager in the January transfer window as he seeks to rip up the team he inherited from Martin O'Neill and bring in his own players.
And he aims to start right at the back, with neither 39-year-old keeper Brad Friedel nor his deputy, Brad Guzan, seen as featuring in the long-term.
His move for Given - with Friedel offered in part-exchange - will be the first test of the window for Mancini who has a number of unsettled players, including Wayne Bridge, Emmanuel Adebayor and Shaun Wright-Phillips who want to go.
Houllier is prepared to see at least six O'Neill regulars leave, with Steve Sidwell's switch to West Ham already planned, and John Carew, Richard Dunne and Stephen Ireland all eager to get away. Friedel could be the key to any deal. He has not been offered a new contract by Villa but City would allow him to start coaching as well as playing.
AS Roma are back in the hunt for Given and would like to take him on loan in January until the end of the season.
In August, Roma, coached by former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri, spoke about a 2million deal and also a possible swap arrangement. The team from the Eternal City finished second to Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan in Serie A last season, are currently fifth in the table, four points off a Champions League place.
They have reached the last 16 of this season' s Champion's League and face Shakhtar Donetsk. Given's Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni is a huge fan, and he is known to have mentioned the goalkeeper to Italian clubs.
It was also reported that Leicester manager Sven-Goran Eriksson will launch a bid next month to try and land Given. The former England coach wants to get a goalkeeper either on a permanent deal, or take them on loan with an option to buy later on.
Eriksson has already taken Chris Kirkland on loan from Wigan Athletic, but his injury problems have left the Swede with doubts about his long-term suitability.
"We have to believe in what we are doing and get in some fresh players," Eriksson said. "Something will happen in January. But I have always said that, if we sign players, they have to make the team better."