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shay gets green light for final

Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given is winning his fitness fight to be ready for tomorrow's FA Cup final.

The keeper missed Sunday's 1-0 defeat to Burnley with a groin injury but has returned to training before the Wembley showdown with Arsenal.

Kieran Richardson (calf), Aly Cissokho (groin) and Jores Okore (knee) are also back in training to boost Tim Sherwood's numbers.

The boss admitted Given was a doubt for the final but is now in contention to feature again.

He said: "He trained today so we're hopeful he'll be alright. But the nature of this club is you can't hold your breath. We're training tomorrow so we're likely to lose two or three.

"I've not yet made my decision on the keeper. Come back tomorrow and I'll tell you then.

"Kieran trained today, Cissokho is fit and Okore trained for the first time today.

"If everyone's fit we could play the same team as the semi-finals."

Villa are heading to their first FA Cup final for 15 years and have not won the trophy since 1957. They beat Liverpool 2-1 in the semi-final last month and Sherwood insisted his side are not just in it for a day out.

"It's a huge occasion for everyone involved and it's a huge honour to be taking them to Wembley," he said.

"But no-one ever remembers the bridesmaids, no-one remembers who loses in a cup final."


Jack Grealish is also expected to start after his starring role in Villa's successful survival bid in the Premier League.

He also impressed in the 2-1 win over Liverpool in the semi-final last month and Sherwood is looking for a Wembley repeat from the 19-year-old.

"He has coped with the pressure up until now, when he is asked to step up he has ticked the boxes," he said. "The bigger the stage the better he's been and there isn't any bigger stage than this one so I'm hoping he performs - otherwise we'll sell him!

"He is great, he loves playing. I don't think he gets nervous. He doesn't look the type. He's a terrific player and we're happy he's on our side.

"I think he realises it because he is around Aston Villa fans, Jack has never seen the club win a trophy.

"Even if he tries to get away from it it's impossible with his family walking around with Villa shirts on every day."

However, Sherwood admits Villa will be powerless to stop Christian Benteke leaving this summer - after revealing he has a buy-out clause in his contract.

The striker has been linked with a move to Liverpool and Sherwood confirmed for the first time he has a "substantial" release clause in his contract which would trigger a move if met.

Benteke has scored 12 goals in his last 12 games after regaining form and fitness under Sherwood.

The Belgium striker signed a four-year deal in 2013, after initially handing in a transfer request, and Sherwood admitted they face losing Benteke if the clause is met.

He said: "There's a buy-out clause in his contract so it will be impossible for us to stop him if he wants to go. Someone's got to meet that buy-out clause.


"Everyone has it. Most players would have it when they sign new contracts. I don't know what the figure is but I believe it will be quite substantial.

"He's made no indication that he wants to leave. I've not had a conversation with him. I've told you my view on it, I don't think he should be moving clubs before a European Championship.

"We're building up to a European Championship, which is a huge stage as well. It's a tournament where you feel that Belgium will be one of the favourites to win it."