Mancini bids to placate Given with Europa start
ROBERTO MANCINI is planning to restore Shay Given to the Manchester City team for Thursday's Europa League tie against FC Timisoara in an effort to reassure the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper that he still has a role to play at the club.
Given (34) is facing an uncertain future at Eastlands after being dropped in favour of England's new No 1 Joe Hart for the Premier League opener against Tottenham at the weekend.
Hart's stunning performance during the 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane justified Mancini's faith in the 23-year-old and highlighted the battle Given faces if he is to reclaim the goalkeeper's jersey at City.
Fulham, managed by former City manager Mark Hughes, are likely to move for Given should Mark Schwarzer leave Craven Cottage for Arsenal in the coming days and it is understood that Given is keen to secure first-team football as quickly as possible.
But while Mancini is reluctantly prepared to sanction a loan move for Given -- on the proviso that City can insert an emergency recall clause in any deal -- the City manager's preference is to keep the former Newcastle 'keeper at Eastlands in order to provide top-class competition and cover for Hart.
Mancini held talks with Given yesterday to discuss the player's situation and to reassure him that he remains a part of his plans at Eastlands.
Given will receive an outing in the Europa League play-off first-leg in Romania later this week. And, although Hart would be restored to the starting XI for the Premier League visit of Liverpool next Monday, Mancini is determined to prove to the Donegal man that he will be given numerous opportunities to play if he remains a City player.
City, meanwhile, are hopeful of completing their summer acquisition programme this week by finally securing the services of Aston Villa's England midfielder James Milner.
Negotiations with Villa and the player have progressed to the point of an agreement being reached between the parties, but the refusal of City midfielder Stephen Ireland to agree to being traded as part of the deal until he reaches a compensation settlement with his current club remains the obstacle to the transfer being concluded.
Ireland faces the prospect of being omitted from City's 25-man Premier League squad if he chooses to reject a move to Villa, but the player has yet to shift his stance and talks are ongoing.
There were suggestions last night that Milner's camp are growing impatient at the delays but City remain confident the deal will go through.
Shaun Wright-Phillips has insisted that he is committed to staying at the club, despite reports of his unhappiness at City towards the end of last season.
Wright-Phillips, who started against Spurs last Saturday, said: "I'm really happy here and I'm not going anywhere.
"This could be a great season for the club and I don't want to miss a thing.
"Everyone knows you have to work hard to stay in this team, but it was great to start the first game of the season." (© Daily Telegraph, London)