Mancini defends Given stance
Roberto Mancini has defended his decision to leave Shay Given on the bench for most of the season.
By Ben Collins
Last Updated: 17/01/11 4:21pm
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has defended his decision to leave Shay Given on the bench for most of the season.
The Italian boss has rotated his star-studded squad this season to keep his regulars fresh and keep some fringe players happy by giving them enough game-time.
But Given has been handed just four appearances all season, with Joe Hart preferred in goal for City's other 28 games.
Given was City's first-choice keeper when Mancini took charge a year ago, with Hart having been sent on loan to Birmingham, but the 23-year-old England keeper has been preferred since his return to Eastlands.
Given is set to be handed a rare start in Tuesday night's FA Cup third-round replay against Leicester and at 34, the Republic of Ireland international is keen to leave City and reignite his career, potentially going initially on loan.
But Mancini is against tinkering with players in such an important role and is wary of leaving himself short having been forced to sign Marton Fulop on an emergency loan last season, so warned Given it is not certain a move will be granted.
"It is not a simple position," he said.
"You can change the other players every game but the goalkeeper is different.
"That is the only reason why Shay has not played so often because he is a fantastic goalkeeper."
Veteran midfielder Patrick Vieira is in a similar situation having started just two Premier League games this term, although he has made eight appearances in cup competitions.
The Frenchman, also 34, is one of a several fringe players that could come in at Eastlands as City look to secure a fourth-round trip to Notts County.
"Patrick Vieira is an important member of our squad," said Mancini. "He is a good player, who has lots of experience.
"He will probably play, along with Jerome Boateng, James Milner, David Silva, Jo and Joleon Lescott. We have other players that we can win this game.
"I don't like this replay because we have a lot of matches to play until the end of the season already," he added.
"But we want to win because we want to get to Wembley. For me, that is very important."
City are firmly in the Premier League title race and have reached the Europa League knock-out stage and although they made a tame exit from the Carling Cup, this year's FA Cup represents a great opportunity for the Blues to win their first major trophy since 1976.