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Shay Given: I've had a turnaround
18 Apr 2015 22:10
Shay Given admits he feels wanted at Aston Villa again as he prepares to complete a remarkable turnaround in his career.
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The keeper celebrates his 39th birthday on Monday and will start against Liverpool in Sunday's FA Cup semi final.
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He has made just two league appearances for Villa since 2012 having lost his place to Brad Guzan under ex-boss Paul Lambert.
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Given has been the side's keeper for the cup competitions and Tim Sherwood will keep faith with him at Wembley.
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Last season he failed to make an appearance for Villa and was loaned out to Middlesbrough - before aiding Lambert in the dugout after the exits of coaches Gary Karsa and Ian Culverhouse.
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And Sunday's significance is not lost on Given.
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He said: "It's a bit of a turnaround for me personally, it's nice to feel wanted as a player. It's been tough and there have been some dark days but this cup run has done me good.
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"Every player wants to feel the club wants you and the manager to put his arm around you. I'm counting down the sleeps.
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"It's my birthday on Monday so it would be nice to have an early present but in football fairytales don't always come true.
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"I'm not thinking about last year, I'm thinking about this week. We're all excited and looking forward to the game.
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"It's a great occasion for the club and fans but we don't want to be remembered for a great day out. We want to get to the final."
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Villa boss Sherwood was captain of the Blackburn team when a 19-year-old Given made his league debut in a 1-0 defeat at Wimbledon in 1996.
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And while Given jokes he has tried to use their past to earn a recall in the Barclays Premier League he knows Sherwood will only be won over by performances.
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"I've tried to bribe him a bit, he has a job to do and it's up to me to push Brad as best I can," he said.
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"I was 19 at the time. It was a bit of a daunting thing for a 19-year-old to play against the Crazy Gang with the stereo blasting through the walls.
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"He helped me and hopefully my experience can help some of the team and keep their feet and heads clear for what's to come."
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Villa are without the suspended Carlos Sanchez while Gabby Agbonlahor will be assessed as he battles a hamstring injury and Alan Hutton is out with an ankle problem.
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Given won the FA Cup in 2011 with Manchester City - although was an unused substitute when they beat Stoke 1-0.
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And when he steps out at Wembley against the Reds he will hope it is just the start of his rebirth.
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He said: "I still think I've got a lot to offer, you work hard behind the scenes but a lot of people haven't seen much of me in the last couple of years.
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"I want to keep it going and give the manager a bit of a headache. I don't think my Premier League days are over."
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