Given has high hopes Trap will extend stay
SHAY GIVEN has delivered a strong endorsement for the retention of Giovanni Trapattoni as Ireland manager, and indicated that it might influence his decision on whether to continue with international football after the European Championships.
The new Aston Villa recruit feels the FAI should sort out the Italian's contract situation quickly, rather than leaving it lingering into the crunch Euro qualifiers in the autumn.
"I think we're very honoured and privileged to have him as a manager because he's such a great coach and the results prove it as well," said Given.
"I just think for such a small nation to have someone of world renown in football is fantastic. I would hope he would extend his contract and be here for another couple of years.
"I think ideally we should get it done and put it to bed because you guys will be speculating if it's not," added Given, with a smile, acknowledging that it was a bit of a distraction when Brian Kerr's contract was running down in 2006.
"I'm sure that Trap and all the players coming up are just focused on all of these games next month because they're so important. Whatever happens with his contract will happen, before or after, but these games are massive."
Could they be Given's last hurrah in an Irish shirt? The Donegal man admits that he will have to sit down and have a think about that whenever the European Championships campaign ends.
The 35-year-old is mulling over his options, and suggested that Trapattoni's situation could be a factor. "I'll speak to Trap after this, and see what the best thing to do is," he said.
Before then, however, Given has two things to focus on. Firstly, there is the prospect of regular football again with Aston Villa. After the most frustrating season of his career at Manchester City, he is relishing the challenge ahead and insists he can still think about winning silverware with his new employers.
"We've the nucleus of a very good team," he said. "We were ninth last year and hopefully we can improve on that, and there are the cup competitions. We have aspirations to win a trophy."
Given -- speaking at the launch of ESPN's coverage of the new Premier League season -- reckons that we could be seeing more of Richard Dunne and Stephen Ireland on our screens in this campaign.
Both fell foul of the Gerard Houllier regime, yet Given says that Alex McLeish has given everybody a fresh start.
"I think there was a lot of turmoil last year," he said. "Alex has come in and given everyone a clean slate. Hopefully, Dunney and all will benefit from that. He's looking really lean and fit in pre-season and raring to go for the new season."
The 'keeper feels in good form himself, after damaging both shoulders in the past two seasons. With the onset of age, he finds that a lot of his fitness work is about injury prevention. Yoga has become a bigger part of his life.
A second trip to a major finals would make it all worthwhile. Wednesday's game with Croatia is a stepping stone to the quickfire meetings with Slovakia in Dublin and Russia in Moscow. The Trapattoni factor makes the latter game less daunting. Ireland are yet to lose an away game under the 72-year-old's stewardship.
"He's given us the belief that we can go to places like that," said Given. "It'll be the toughest game of the group. But the first obstacle is obviously Slovakia. Hopefully we beat Slovakia, and then it's a shoot-off at the OK Corral."