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Given goes when I say: Mancini

Roberto Mancini has told Shay Given that he will make the final decision on whether to sell the out-of-favour goalkeeper after conceding that Manchester City are struggling to find an adequate replacement.

The Republic of Ireland keeper (34) has yet to appear in the Premier League this season and is facing another afternoon on the substitutes' bench today with Joe Hart due to continue in goal against Wolves at Eastlands.

The Donegal man is unhappy with his lack of opportunities and is keen to secure first-team football elsewhere. The City manager has instructed the club's scouts to identify an experienced replacement who could cover for Hart for the rest of the season.

But after City's challenge for Champions League qualification was derailed last season following a shoulder injury to Given, which left the club without reliable cover because Hart was on loan at Birmingham, Mancini will not allow the Republic of Ireland international to leave unless he can find a suitable alternative.


"We can't take this risk," Mancini said. "Finding a goalkeeper like Shay is not easy. We have seen two or three goalkeepers, but Shay doesn't decide this situation. We must first find another good goalkeeper. Shay knows, though, that if he wants to stay I'm happy."

City are confident that Given can be persuaded to remain at the club until the end of season, at which point they are prepared to look favourably on a transfer request from the former Newcastle goalkeeper.

Mancini has told his Manchester City players to ignore the fact they will go top of the Premier League by beating Wolves today.

Victory over Mick McCarthy's battlers will allow City to leapfrog neighbours Manchester United and increase the pressure ahead of the Red Devils' key trip to Tottenham tomorrow.

Yet Mancini is anxious not to spend time bothering about that. All the Italian cares about is where City are at the season's end.

"We should not think about it," he said. "We should only think about our games. The season is very long and we have another 17 matches to play. The table could change every three days, so we must focus only on Wolverhampton, nothing else."

Mancini's assessment is understandable. Along with Liverpool and Chelsea, City have already been one of Wolves' high-profile victims this term.

By taking points off all the established big four, plus Tottenham this term, the Sky Blues have proved they are good enough to challenge for the biggest prizes.

But, as Mancini acknowledges, that is only part of the battle. "If you beat all these teams, the ones like Wolves, Blackpool and Aston Villa and draw against those like Chelsea and United, you win the title. But it is not easy," he said.

"The problem comes when you meet a team that, in your head, you think are easy. Against Arsenal, United or Chelsea, you don't need to remind yourself to concentrate. You are there a week before. But if you think a game is going to be easy, that is when you lose. It happens here and in Italy. There is no such thing as an easy game."

Mancini is pondering whether to hand a debut to £27m new boy Edin Dzeko. With three matches in a week coming up and the 24-year-old slightly rusty, having not played a competitive game since the start of the German winter break in mid-December, he may start life as a City player on the bench. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent