Wednesday 17 January 2018

Jennings and Bonner sure Irish 'keeper to stay City's number one

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Shay Given may be fretting over his future at Manchester City, but yesterday two Irish goalkeeping legends backed him to see off the challenge of Joe Hart.

The young English stopper may be earning rave reviews across the water, but with 199 international caps between them, Packie Bonner and Pat Jennings have seen pretenders come and go and both believe Given's class will win out.

Given has said he will consider his position if manager Roberto Mancini opts for Hart to start against Tottenham in Saturday's Premier League opener. But Bonner believes the fit-again Donegal native will be first choice.

"I think people are surmising that he will be sitting on the bench," Bonner said. "I think he will play once he portrays to the manager that he is fully fit and that he can handle everything that is thrown at him then he will be fine.

"Nobody will touch Shay as long as he's back to the way he was, fully fit and playing. I think young Hart will have a big job putting him out of his position. (The English public) are desperate for a goalkeeper and Joe Hart fits the bill for a young, potential goalkeeper for them so they will blow that up of course.


"The media in England will be desperate for him to play. The question might be, if Shay plays what happens to Joe Hart?"

Jennings also believes Given has a right to demand a spot in the first team. "I think he's entitled to it," the Newry native said. "You have a goalkeeper as good as Shay Given you are going to play your best and steadiest 'keeper. If Shay keeps doing what he's been doing for as many years as I can remember, he shouldn't have a threat."

Bonner also admitted he has concerns as to whether Given's Ireland team-mate Aiden McGeady can adapt to Russia if his mooted €11.4 move to Spartak Moscow goes through this week.

"If he goes to Russia he needs all the luck in the world," Bonner said. "It's a very difficult place to go. It's a very different country, obviously there is the language, then there is settling in. I don't know how Aiden will meet that challenge, it will be very difficult for him."

Meanwhile, Jennings and fellow Tottenham legend Ossie Ardiles called for Ireland captain Robbie Keane to commit his future to White Harte Lane.

"The fans at Tottenham absolutely love him," Jennings said. "I'd be disappointed if he goes. We haven't added to the squad at the moment. I think Harry has made it known he wants players in."

And Ardiles agreed, saying: "Robbie is a wonderful player. It was a very difficult season for him last year, but Robbie will be thinking, 'this is my place, this is where I want to be'."

Irish Independent

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