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Given heaps praise on Swindon boss Di Canio

FORMER Irish international Shay Given believes Paolo Di Canio has put Swindon Town back on the map, as the Donegal native prepares to go back to the club where he made his league debut.

Given is expected to return to Villa's starting line-up tonight in the League Cup after seeing himself fall behind American Brad Guzan in the pecking order at Villa Park.

It's been 17 years since Given lined out for Swindon Town, making five apearances, and he has been impressed with their progression under Di Canio.

"It's fantastic really. I think he's really put Swindon back on the map - and that's no disrespect to the club," he said.

"He's really given the whole town a huge lift and that comes across through his personality and from his results.

"We wouldn't be speaking about him so much if he hadn't been getting such good results.

"I think he's a bit hot-headed but that's his personality and you wouldn't take it out of him. Some of his interviews as a manager have shown he hasn't calmed down much either but that's the way he is. His players respond to that and some of the results he's had this season -- not just in the league but in the cup as well -- have been phenomenal."

Unsurprisingly, Given holds his period at Town close to his heart.

"I made my league debut for Swindon so it meant a lot to me. People always ask me where I made my debut and it was for the club, I think it was away to Hull in the first game," he said.

"It was a long bus journey on the Friday and we managed to get a 1-0 win as well.

"Steve McMahon was player-manager. I was only 18 at the time and it was a great experience.

"It was my league debut so it was a big moment for me and to play with Steve McMahon, after all he did in his career, was fantastic as well. As player-manager he had faith to put me in the first team which was fantastic.

"You always remember your first game and for me of course that was for Swindon Town. I'll always remember that."

The 36-year-old stopper knows Villa are only marginal favourites, if favourites at all, for tonight's clash.

"It's a tough game," he said. "We know that because we know how well Swindon are playing at the minute."