Belfast Telegraph

Republic of Ireland v Norway: Shay Given just glad to be playing again

The familiar jibe aimed at Shay Given during international friendly weeks, most vocally from his old foe Roy Keane, is that he is racking up caps when others could do with the experience.

But it's different this time. The Republic of Ireland's stand-in captain is looking forward to his involvement against Norway because he feels that his period in the background at Manchester City is removing the necessary sharpness to compete at the top level.

With Kevin Kilbane absent, Given will become his country's most capped player tonight, standing alone on 109 appearances. Rather than thinking about landmarks, he's just focusing on the chance to figure in a match, something he can't take for granted any more.

“I haven't come just to get another cap,” he said in Malahide yesterday. “For me it's about playing football — and I haven't played too many games this season.

“As a kid growing up, you want to play football and when you don't it's frustrating. So this game is more about me getting a game than the cap thing.”

Joe Hart is Roberto Mancini's favourite, and a move away from Eastlands in January seems increasingly likely. Hart is struggling with a back problem ahead of England's friendly with France, and maybe a run of games could change things. In truth, though, Given knows he can't continue like this for much longer. He's not finding it easy.

“I think I've already said how I'm coping — not very well to be honest,” he continues.

“As everyone knows, my own personal situation isn't ideal. We'll see what happens over the next couple of months. I want to be playing football so hopefully something might happen in the New Year.

“I probably am enjoying training here more at the minute because I have a good chance of playing, which is not the case at the club.”

Since the Republic's Euro 2012 qualifiers with Russia and Slovakia last month, the 34-year-old has only seen action in a Europa League loss at the hands of Lech Poznan.

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