A year ago today Shay Given had missed very few games in the then nine years of his time at Newcastle. But on September 17th against West Ham Shay suffered that sickening injury when he ruptured a groin in his accidental clash with Marlon Harewood at West Ham.
Shay, for the first time in his career, missed a number of games last season and even in pre-season he injured his groin again and has only played once this season, giving able deputy Steve Harper a run in the side.
Like most Newcastle players this season, Shay is impressed with new manager Sam Allardyce and is hopeful the manager’s new fitness regime will help minimize picking up injuries.
Shay Given – will be most capped Irish goalkeeper after Saturday’s game
This is what Shay said yesterday as he is in training for the Ireland game at Slovakia on Saturday.
“Sam has got his own ideas and is very much into fitness and the sports science and nutritional sides of things, and how best to recover in time for the next game,”
“He has opened our eyes to things we weren’t aware of in the past and I think it will help everyone connected with the club to become stronger and fitter, and invariably a better player.â€
“I am very excited about it because it is just so frustrating being injured again. It is great to be coming back at a time when the Republic of Ireland are involved in two such massive games.”
Given will break the record for the Ireland goalkeeper most capped by his country in Saturdays game against Slovakia, when he exceeds Paddy Bonner’s record of 80 appearances. Shay is not thinking of records right now as the Irish prepare for a vital stage of their Euro 2008 qualifying campaign.
“Records are something to look back on at the end of your career, at the moment all I am concentrating on is getting the results we need,”
“I am not thinking about records at all.”
Ireland are currently third in their group, one point behind the Czech Republic who they face in Prague next Wednesday. Germany are a full five points clear at the top of the Group D. Shay will be playing against new team mate David Rozehnal next Wednesday. The Czech defender has made an excellent start to his Newcastle career and it should be an interesting game for Newcastle fans to watch.
Two teams go forward from each group to next summer’s finals in Austria and Switzerland.