MIDDLESBROUGH goalkeeper Shay Given would welcome back into the international fold with open arms by Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill – though he admits he has yet to make contact with the veteran.
O’Neill is currently plotting how he can make his mark on the squad he inherited following Giovanni Trapattoni’s sacking in September – a slightly frustrating task given a three-month wait before his next fixture.
O’Neill, along with assistant Roy Keane (both former Sunderland managers), was in the dugout for the first time during November’s friendly double header against Lativa and Poland, but took charge of a squad initially selected by caretaker coach Noel King.
He will put his own group together for the March 5 visit of Serbia and the 61-year-old would be interested in hearing from Given – who travels with Boro to Millwall for tomorrow’s tea-time televised clash in the Championship (KO 5.15pm) – and who retired on 125 caps last summer and is currently 37.
After being relegated to the Aston Villa bench, Given has been revitalised by a loan move to Middlesbrough and could provide serious competition for the likes of Keiren Westwoood and David Forde.
“I would not discount that at all,” said O’Neill.
“I haven’t spoken to Shay but I would like to at some stage, if he says ‘I’m back’.
“But I am having a conversation here about somebody I haven’t actually spoken to. I know Shay and I’ve spoken to him a number of times but that was before I took the job on.
“I may be a million miles out of my ground because he may have no intention of coming back, but I certainly wouldn’t discount it if I’d had that conversation and he was thinking about coming back.”
l SEE tomorrow’s Mail for Boro v millwall preview