Hughes hands Given backing
Man City boss Mark Hughes insists goalkeeper Shay Given is strong enough to cope with his World Cup heartache.
Last Updated: 20/11/09 6:11pm
Manchester City boss Mark Hughes insists goalkeeper Shay Given is strong enough to cope with his World Cup heartache.
The Republic of Ireland number one led the protests towards referee Martin Hansson after Thierry Henry's blatant handball contributed to his side crashing out of their World Cup play-off with France on Wednesday night.
The controversial manner of their exit has been in the headlines since but with club football returning at the weekend, normal service must be resumed.
Given, 33, has voiced his concerns that he may never feature in another World Cup, but has the support of his club manager who suffered final game heartbreak with Wales as both a player and a manager.
"It is not easy as a player or manager to miss out in the last match," Hughes said.
"Sometimes you feel aggrieved, sometimes you just weren't quite good enough."
Hughes' Wales side were denied qualification for Euro 2004 in a play-off with Russia, who later had Yegor Titov fail a drugs test, with the Welsh FA's protests going unheard.
Similarly, the FAI have had their request for a replay turned down and must now accept that France will participate in South Africa at their expense, something which Hughes feels can help Given get on with his club career.
He said: "I had it when we lost to Russia and then one of their players failed a drugs test.
"We took it a long way but the longer it went on, the more we realised we wouldn't get the verdict.
"At least Shay doesn't have that hanging over him. It is done now.
"The only way you put that bitter disappointment behind you by playing exceptionally well at club level, and Shay will do that because he's a top professional."
"It is all a little bit raw for Shay at the moment," said Hughes.
"The decision has been made and he has lost the opportunity of this World Cup, which is a shame.
"But it is not over for him. He has to stay clear of injury but I can see him being the Irish goalkeeper for many years after this World Cup. He's a fit guy who works exceptionally hard.
"If he continues to keep up his current levels, there is no reason why he can't be around for the next two World Cups."
One of those who suffered Euro 2004 heartbreak with Wales under Hughes was Craig Bellamy, a player he has since managed at Blackburn and now Eastlands.
The Welsh wizard has been in the form of his life this season, keeping record signing Robinho out of the City line up in the process, but his form comes as no surprise to his compatriot Hughes.
"Every time I have been involved with Craig, he has produced," said Hughes.
"From our point of view, that is fantastic because, arguably, he is playing some of the best football he has ever produced.
"He knows he has a platform and the players around him that would allow him to be as successful as he knows he can be."
Bellamy's move to big-spending City has handed the 30-year-old another chance at the top level, with his sole season at Liverpool ultimately proving unsuccessful.
Hughes takes his City side to Anfield this weekend intent on adding further misery to Liverpool's already disastrous season, with Bellamy likely to play a key role in the clash.
Hughes added: "Craig left Blackburn because he wanted to be successful and win trophies. When he left Liverpool maybe he hadn't quite fulfilled the ambition that he had.
"This is another opportunity and you sense it is one he does not want to let pass him by."