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Given training harder than ever in bid to regain No 1 spot

SHAY GIVEN is hoping for his first Manchester City start in two months, as Roberto Mancini's team resume their Europa League campaign against Aris Thessaloniki in Greece tonight, conscious that his lack of competitive action presents an extra level of difficulty.

"I don't think worry is the word you're looking for; it's not an ideal situation, but you've got to play with the hand you've been dealt," said Given, who has started only four games for City this season -- three in their European campaign and one in the League Cup.

"That's the situation I'm in at the minute and there's nothing I can do to change that. You just try to look at as many positives as you can. I've played a good few games in my career and I'd like to think I can call on that experience to get me through a difficult period, obviously."

Given said his period on the sidelines had increased his preparation levels, explaining: "I've trained more than I've ever trained because, when you're playing, the next day after a match is usually a warm-down, but I'm actually training."

The Irish international indicated last week that City will release him this summer, with Joe Hart in the ascendancy, though there are prospects of him having a busier second half to the season, with Mancini questioning Hart's concentration levels.

"Joe will learn," said Given. "You learn from making mistakes. That's certainly been my experience and Joe will be the same."

Aris, who are looking to maintain a 40-year unbeaten home run in UEFA club competition, will include one player familiar to City -- Nery Castillo, the Mexican known as 'El Diablo' who stumped up half the £3m loan fee to join Sven-Goran Eriksson at Eastlands from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2007.

Mancini, whose team will take on the winners of Besiktas and Dynamo Kiev if they progress over two legs, has taken Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli to Greece's second city, while the inclusion of Michael Johnson in the squad is a boost for a player who has been out of first-team football since a training ground injury 14 months ago.

Manchester City (possible 4-2-3-1) -- Hart; Richards, K Toure, Boateng, Zabaleta; Barry, Vieira; Wright-Phillips, Y Toure, Jo; Dzeko.

Aris Thessaloniki v Manchester City,

Live, ITV4/Setanta Ireland, 5.0

Irish Independent