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Shay set for Toon re-run

CHRIS Hughton is ready to offer Shay Given a way out of his Eastlands torture -- and the chance to play regular football again -- by bringing him back to Newcastle as emergency cover for the injured Steve Harper.

Newcastle have asked the Premier League for special permission to take Given on loan after Harper, who spent eight years as the Irishman's understudy, was ruled out for three months.

But a potential clash has emerged between Given and City boss Roberto Mancini, which could scupper the move and leave Giovanni Trapattoni's number one rooted to the bench for the foreseeable future.

Over the weekend, Given claimed that "the club said I wasn't going anywhere," when asked about the final days of the transfer window.

However, Maninci has directly contradicted this by suggesting that Given could have moved if he wanted to.

"If he decided to leave he could have left a month ago. Now we must wait until January," said Maninci, who now appears ready to let Given exit on a loan deal.

Trapattoni names his squad today for the crunch Euro 2012 qualifiers against Russia and Slovakia in two weeks' time and his concerns about his inactive top men will have grown considerably.

Premier League activity over the weekend was notable for the absence of several of Trapattoni's top names.

Robbie Keane did get a chance to re-establish himself at White Hart Lane, but fluffed his lines, while the ever-reliable John O'Shea was fully involved in the big game at Old Trafford yesterday.

However, Glen Whelan played just four minutes for Stoke in a 1-1 draw with West Ham and his Irish midfield team-mate Keith Andrews is still injured and unavailable.

But the biggest worry will undoubtedly revolve around Richard Dunne, who only managed the first 45 minutes for Aston Villa in their 1-1 draw with Bolton.

The only piece of good news was the return to action of Damien Duff, who played as Mark Hughes' lone striker in a 1-1 draw with Blackburn.

In fact Irish players who haven't been figuring in Trapattoni's plans for one reason or another had a much more active weekend.

Andy Reid returned after a long injury lay-off for a second-half cameo for Sunderland while Stephen Ireland played for more than an hour against Bolton.

Another Trap exile, Steven Reid, was a late sub for West Brom against Birmingham while James McCarthy played 90 minutes for Wigan.