McLeish keeping options open
Alex McLeish admits there are "no guarantees" that the returning Shay Given will immediately replace Brad Guzan in Aston Villa's team.
Last Updated: 11/01/12 10:50am
Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has praised Shay Given for making "great progress" in his recovery from a hamstring injury - but insists the goalkeeper is not certain to walk straight back into the first team.
Given, who joined the club from Manchester City in the summer, is now back in training having been sidelined with the problem since the start of December.
No.2 Brad Guzan has seized his opportunity in the absence of the 35-year-old, turning in a string of impressive performances in recent weeks.
But with Given now nearing a return to action, possibly as early as this weekend, McLeish faces a tough decision over who to pick between the posts.
"Shay is not far away. He's champing on the door to be involved this weekend against Everton," the former Birmingham boss told AVTV.
"Whether he is going to make it, we will have to wait and see. I can't give you that news at the moment.
"He has made great progress. He is training with the group and it's a case of how sharp he's feeling and how confident he's feeling before we make a decision about him coming back into the team.
"There are no guarantees of that obviously because of the way Brad has played."
Guzan joined Villa back in the summer of 2008 but has had limited first-team opportunities since then, with the Premier League club sending him out on loan to Hull City last season.
However, McLeish has hailed the performances of the 27-year-old, who saved a penalty in the FA Cup win at Bristol Rovers, in recent weeks.
"Brad has been fantastic. I felt great for him when he made that penalty save against Bristol Rovers in the last game although I was gutted for him that he didn't get the shutout.
"I know all goalkeepers crave clean sheets. It is always a gold star for the goalkeeper when there's a shutout but unfortunately we let a goal in.
"But what a fantastic save for the penalty. The experts we have here - like coach Terry Gennoe - tell me that Brad has a great record when it comes to penalties.
"He's got a good knack at that, going back to the Peace Cup tournament in Spain a few pre-seasons ago. Well done Brad.
"It was good to see him saving that penalty although, in all honesty, he didn't deserve to let any goals in that game."