Football - Cup run has kept me going - Given

Shay Given admits Aston Villa's cup success has helped him cope with the frustration of being number two goalkeeper this season.

PA Sport
Football - Cup run has kept me going - Given

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Shay Given admits he has found it difficult to adjust to life as a back-up

Given lost his place to Brad Guzan in August and the American has played in all of Villa's Barclays Premier League matches for the past five months. Former Manchester City player Given concedes it would have been difficult to keep going without the compensation of being involved in the Capital One Cup and FA Cup matches.

The stopper, who hopes to play against Bradford in the Capital One Cup semi-final, said: "It is a tough one for the manager to pick one of us. He has gone with Brad this season and it is has been difficult for me at times. I can't stand here and say I'm quite happy to sit on the bench, because I'm not."

He continued: "When you work hard all week and, come matchday you are not playing, it can be soul destroying. You miss the buzz of playing games. I'm not used to the position but these cup games have been important. Had we been knocked out in the first round of the League Cup, I might not have been so happy. It would be difficult to keep yourself going.

"These little games coming every now and then have really kept me working hard. At the back of your mind, you know these big games are coming up. Please God, I'll play on Tuesday night. I've played in the last three or four rounds. I don't know what the manager's thoughts are, you'll have to ask him, but hopefully I'll play."

Given showed he is still a force to be reckoned with when producing two saves described as world-class by Villa boss Paul Lambert during the weekend FA Cup win over Ipswich.

He said: "When I get the chance, it's important I remind the manager that there is still plenty of life left in me and still plenty of years left ahead of me. Of course, you are delighted to be in a winning team first and foremost. The team is the most important thing. But it's nice as a keeper when you have to contribute and thankfully I did that a couple of times against Ipswich."

Despite being second choice, Given is full of praise for the way Lambert has handled the situation.

He said: "The gaffer has been really good on that front. He has been supportive, had me in the office a couple of times and there are no complaints on that front. He says 'Keep your head down, keep working hard and see what happens.' Sometimes you sulk about it and have bad days like all people do, but the cup games have been a big carrot for me."

Given is adamant his focus is on Tuesday rather than how the future may develop. He said: "How do I see things long term? I don't really know. I'm looking forward to Tuesday. I haven't really looked too much long-term at the minute. We'll see what happens over the next few weeks. But I'm really happy to be here."

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