Belfast Telegraph

Play me or I will go, Shay Given tells Manchester City

Shay Given is to discuss his future with Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini next week if he finds himself on the bench on Saturday.

At a Republic of Ireland press conference looking ahead to tomorrow's friendly with Argentina, Given made it clear he is not prepared to play second fiddle to Joe Hart this season.

Hart was outstanding during a season-long loan at Birmingham last season, to such an extent that Mancini has refused to allow the 23-year-old to join another club on a similar basis.

That has opened the debate as to whether Hart or Given will receive the nod from Mancini for Saturday's Barclays Premier League curtain-raiser against Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

At the age of 34, Given knows his career for both club and country are on the line and that he will have to be playing first-team football with one if he is going to further his longevity with the other.

“We will have to wait until lunchtime on Saturday when the manager picks the team to see who starts in goal,” said Given, who has been linked with Arsenal and Fulham of late due to the uncertainty.

“Obviously I hope to start, but it's inevitable there is going to be speculation because I know Joe is also a top 'keeper.

“The manager will decide, and whoever he starts with you would feel that is who he would mostly want to play in the big games.

“If I don't start then I'll sit down with the club next week and see where my future lies, and maybe vice-versa with Joe, because we will both feel we should be playing.

“Ideally I'd like to stay at the club because it's a big club to be at, a very ambitious club with fantastic owners.

“I want to be part of it, which is why I joined in the first place.

“If I don't start I guess it's an advantage the transfer window will still be open.

“Maybe I'll go out on loan, come back and see where that takes me.

“But I know I'm at a stage where

I need to be playing. I'm 34, and I've not got millions of years left.”

Given fully believes Hart will start for England in their friendly against Hungary at Wembley on Wednesday.

That in turn would lead to its own pressures as England manager Fabio Capello would want Hart to be a first-team regular with City.

For now Given at least has an historic occasion to look forward to as the Republic play their first match at the new 50,000-seater Aviva Stadium this week.

The stadium was built on the site of their old spiritual home Lansdowne Road and throws open its doors for the prestigious visit of managerless Argentina.

“It's the start of a new era for us as we're playing at the new stadium, one I've not even seen yet,” said Given. “I'm going there tomorrow for the first time, and it looks pretty special when you see the pictures and TV shots.”

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