Shay Given makes Qatar trip to save Euro 2016 dream
Shay Given has returned to light training with Stoke after a period of rehabilitation in Qatar that was organised as part of his efforts to keep his Euro 2016 hopes alive.
Ireland boss Martin O'Neill offered an update on the veteran's situation after a workshop in Paris which coincided with a series of events on Wednesday that marked the start of the 100 day countdown to the tournament.
Given is engaged in a race against time due to the complicated knee injury he suffered in October's win over Germany. He had an operation at the time but attempts to return to the fold at Stoke were thwarted by another setback.
In a bid to accelerate his recovery, Given travelled to the Aspetar facility in Qatar that has been used by a variety of Premier League players. He met a specialist to see if they could help with his problem.
When asked if the 39-year-old was planning a loan switch to further his case ahead of the finals, O'Neill said: "I don't know about that. He went over to the Middle East there to be attended at and looked at.
"I think Seamus McDonagh (goalkeeping coach) is in close contact with him. He hasn't played really since coming off against Germany and that's a fairly lengthy period of time but if he's making good progress then we'll see how it goes."
O'Neill indicated that he is prepared to give the player every chance because of his pedigree.
"He’s played a big part for us since he came out of retirement," added O'Neill. "He’s been an exceptional goalkeeper for us; just an exceptional goalkeeper so we’ll monitor his situation."
In his absence, Darren Randolph stepped in to shine against the Germans and then in November's play-off with Bosnia. Rob Elliot's run in the team at Newcastle has advanced his cause. The problem for Randolph is that his West Ham contribution has been restricted to FA Cup games, although it helps that the Londoners have qualified for the quarter finals.
"He might continue to do that (play in cup)", said O'Neill, "I'm not there to pick West Ham's team but it's good news and I think now that West Ham's view on him is stronger than it was at the start of the season.
"The big plus has been that Elliot has been playing matches for Newcastle so we'll see how we go but he's done himself absolutely no harm at all."