Given's camp stand firm as Kinnear fights to keep him

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The Independent Online

Shay Given travelled to Hull yesterday afternoon with the rest of the Newcastle United squad and manager Joe Kinnear said that the Irishman will be in goal for today's FA Cup third-round tie, but Kinnear was seething following Thursday's statement from Given's solicitor, Michael Kennedy.

Bent on the futile exercise of blaming the messenger, a hostile Kinnear suggested that the Kennedy statement revealing Given's unhappiness at the club may somehow have appeared without Given's knowledge or consent. "You presume the statement was sanctioned by Shay," said Kinnear, adding: "I am quite happy with what Shay told me."

However, last night Kennedy countered this suggestion by saying: "I stand by every word."

Kinnear said he had had a "half hour" conversation with his goalkeeper in his office at Newcastle's training ground yesterday morning. Given was "very happy – no problem at all." Newcastle have not received any offer for Given, Kinnear insisted.

"Shay is contracted until 2011, he's our player and will stay our player," he said. "We're not interested at all in selling him. I want to clear that up – he's here, he's our player and he's going to stay our player. Why should we jeopardise our chances of staying in the Premier League by selling one of our best players? As far as I'm concerned he'll stay. He's our player."

Later Kinnear was asked if the decision on a sale could be taken out of his hands. "Ah, well, that's different, isn't it?" he replied, before confirming that Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is "out of the country."

It is understood that the conversation was much shorter than 30 minutes, while the idea that Given is very happy is risible. Given would love to be very happy at Newcastle but has witnessed from the inside the descent from the Champions League to a relegation battle. In that period of time Given has run out of patience, his distress evident after last Sunday's 5-1 humiliation by Liverpool.

Newcastle's travelling support will be large at Hull and will be expected to give Given a good reception. Both teams are expected to rest players.

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