Given defends Manchester City's poor pre-season

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The Independent Football

Shay Given has urged Manchester City's expectant fans not to get too concerned about the Blues' poor pre-season form.

After failing to land the Vodacom Challenge in South Africa last month, City required a last-minute Martin Petrov goal to avoid defeat at Championship outfit Barnsley on Saturday.

With only two games remaining before the Premier League's biggest spenders open what promises to be a season to remember at Blackburn on August 15, some supporters are already worried their heroes are about to fall flat.

But Given, a relative old-boy having joined from Newcastle last January, does not feel the current fortunes of Mark Hughes' men are any guide about what to expect over the next nine months.

"Pre-season is all about getting players games," he told www.mcfc.co.uk.

"I was at Blackburn as a player and I don't think they won a game pre-season the year that they went on to win the Premier League.

"In the back of everyone's mind it is all about Blackburn in a couple of weeks and hopefully we will have everyone fit and firing then."

Hughes is still looking to bolster his defensive ranks, although it would appear the proposed transfer of Joleon Lescott from Everton is now reliant on the England star making his feelings known to the Goodison Park board.

Two bids have already been turned down and while Hughes is a confirmed fan of the former Wolves star, after missing out on John Terry, he is said to want some kind of encouragement from the player to maintain his interest.

Alternatives are already being looked at, with Newcastle's Sebastien Bassong on a hit-list that is also said to include one-time City skipper Sylvain Distin, who quit Eastlands for Portsmouth three years ago but is now thought to be keen on a move away from Fratton Park.

Hughes will continue his work during a week that includes meetings with both Old Firm sides, as City head to Ibrox on Wednesday before entertaining Celtic in their final friendly at the weekend.

As a former Celtic player and current Republic of Ireland stalwart, Given is likely to receive vastly differing receptions.

"I will get a tasty one on Wednesday night I would imagine," he said.

"But I supported Celtic as a kid growing up, so that will be a special game."

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