Given insists knee issues will not dash French dream
Shay Given has delivered a positive bulletin on his fitness as he works towards making this summer's European Championships.
The Stoke netminder has been on the sidelines since damaging his knee in the win over Germany in October and he recently travelled to Qatar to chat to a specialist with a view to accelerating his rehab.
He is back in training with his employers but is disappointed that next week's Dublin gathering for the friendlies with Switzerland and Slovakia has come too soon for him.
"The squad was named and I didn't make it," says Given. "I'm in close contact with Seamus McDonagh (goalkeeping coach.)
"I'm working hard to be fit for the summer and the way I feel now, my knee feels great and I'm back in full training against Stoke so please God I make the squad in the summer."
Given faces a battle for a finals berth with Darren Randolph impressing in his absence and Rob Elliot a regular at Newcastle. Long-term squad members David Forde and Keiren Westwood are also in Martin O'Neill's mind.
The Derry man's trimmed-down panel for the games will report for duty on Sunday when they will attend the FAI International Awards in RTE which will honour the stand-out performers of 2015.
Robbie Brady, Wes Hoolahan and Jonathan Walters are the three contenders for the Senior Player of the Year award after they made a significant contribution to Ireland's qualification for France.
Brady is also nominated for the young player gong along with Derby duo Cyrus Christie and Jeff Hendrick, while Alan Browne (Preston), Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn) and Callum O'Dowda (Oxford) make up the shortlist for the U-21 award. Browne will train with the first team next week.
Three members of the Dundalk double-winning side are in the frame for the Airtricity League award with Richie Towell - now struggling to get a look-in with Championship side Brighton - up against his former colleagues Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan.
The 2014 winner of the Senior Women's award Julie Ann-Russell is going for two in a row, with Denise O'Sullivan and Louise Quinn making up the final three.
Meanwhile, Mick McCarthy feels Daryl Murphy is back to top form after scoring a brace to mark his 33rd birthday in Ipswich's 2-0 win over Blackburn on Tuesday.
"If you upset defenders then you'll get goals, but if your whole concentration is on scoring goals and not doing all the other stuff then you don't get chances. He's been a real threat the last two or three games by getting back to that," said McCarthy.