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Shay: “I’m available for Ireland”

Shay Given could be set for a return to the Republic of Ireland set-up.

BY CHRIS MCNULTY

SHAY Given has told the Republic of Ireland manager, Giovanni Trapattoni, that he is ready to make a return to international football.

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The 36-year old Liffordman announced in August that he was stepping away from the international game after making a record 125 appearances for Ireland. Having been given a five-year contract at Aston Villa, Given stepped away after a disappointing experience at Euro 2012 to concentrate on club football.

However, Given has been limited to Cup appearances in a Villa side that dropped into the relegation zone following a controversial 1-0 defeat to Southampton on Saturday.

The record caps holder spoke with Trapattoni this week and informed the Italian that he was reversing what he said was a ‘gut-wrenching’ decision.

“We spoke on the phone this week and I explained why I quit in August and why I am now willing to return,” Given said.

“During a lengthy chat, I told Giovanni that I retired because I wanted to concentrate on my club career.

“I have thought about that decision long and hard in the months since then and it is something I have reconsidered.

“That’s why I told Giovanni that I’ll return, but I appreciate that it’s his decision.

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“He is going to stick with the new players for the game against Poland next month and I understand that.”

One of Keiren Westwood, David Forde or Darron Randolph will play against Poland in the February 6th friendly in Dublin.

Given said: “I am not looking to stand on their toes or put pressure on them. I know they have waited long enough for their chance.

“But, as I told Giovanni, I am here if one of them gets injured or he needs some experience in the squad, on and off the pitch.”

Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa are struggling for safety and fell into the drop zone on Saturday, four days after League Two side Bradford defeated them in the first leg of their Capital One League Cup semi-final.

Given said: “When I made the gut-wrenching decision to retire from international football in August, I did it for my Villa career.

“I had played 125 times for Ireland over 16 years and representing my country had been the biggest honour I had in the game.

“I chose to call time on it with a heavy heart but I knew that it was something I had to do for the sake of my club football. I had turned 36 in April and in the modern game there are not too many playing for club and country at that stage of life.

“Since I made that call, things have not gone as well on the club front as I would have liked or expected, and I haven’t started a Premier League game since our second fixture of the season.

“I knew I was going to miss international football and I suppose that was made worse by the fact that I wasn’t playing regularly for Villa.

“So, I began to think about whether I had been too hasty in my choice and started to wonder whether I should reverse it. That’s why I felt that I had to speak to Giovanni, to tell him how I was felling and discuss a possible return.”

Despite his lack of game time with Lambert favouring the American Brad Guzan, Given is still targeting a return to the starting XI at Villa Park.

He said: “My priority has to be getting back into the Villa side – once I get over the injury that kept me out of the squad for the defeat to Southampton.

“Players are generally judged on how they perform at club level, but I’m not playing in the League at the minute and that’s something I need to rectify.”

Carl McHugh’s Bradford lost 2-1 against Oxford United on Saturday at Valley Parade. The Bantams, with McHugh again at centre-back, were unable to repeat the heroics of the 3-1 win over Villa on Tuesday, as a late Peter Leven penalty gave Oxford the win.

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