Shay Given interested in Celtic switch

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The Independent Online

Manchester City goalkeeper Shay Given has refused to rule out a move to Celtic after insisting a switch to the Clydesdale Bank Premier League would not be a step down for him.

The 35-year-old has spent most of the season warming the bench as second choice behind Joe Hart at Eastlands.

He is desperate to be playing regular first-team football again and has long been linked with a return to Parkhead, where he spent three years in the youth team in the early 1990s.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon recently hailed Given as "a top, top goalkeeper" but acknowledged he would cost a lot of money to recruit.

However, a goalkeeper will be high on Lennon's agenda this summer, with Fraser Forster having now returned to Newcastle following the end of his loan spell, which is unlikely to be repeated at the Glasgow giants.

Given, who is on Carling Nations Cup duty with the Republic of Ireland this week, said: "It's no secret I'm a big Celtic supporter and have been all my life. I don't know what their goalkeeping situation is.

"Fraser Forster had a very good season up there and there has been talk of him moving on a permanent basis so we would have to wait and see. But it is a fantastic club with fantastic supporters.

"Ideally, I would like to be playing but it's out of my hands. If Manchester City want me, I've got another two years left on my contract. I don't really know what's going to happen.

"At the moment, I'm focused on the Scotland game on Sunday and then the game against Macedonia [Euro 2012 qualifier on June 4].

"After that we will see what comes up - if there are options to play somewhere. If not, I'll go back to Manchester City pre-season and get my head down and go again."

Asked if a switch to the SPL would be a step down, he said: "Not if you're playing with Celtic, it's not.

"It's a great club, with an unbelievable history, so I wouldn't look at it as a step down. It's a fantastic club but it's too soon to say what's going to happen or if that's going to happen.

"But you never say never when Celtic come calling."

Lennon looks set to sign a new contract with the Hoops despite missing out on the SPL title to rivals Rangers and Given has been impressed by the Celtic boss.

He said: "He's had a difficult season with all the off-field stuff and a lot of lesser men would have walked away from the job.

"It was brilliant to see him picking up the Scottish Cup at the weekend, although I think the biggest disappointment was the game they lost at Inverness.

"But there is always next year to go for the league and I'm sure Neil will be working extremely hard over the summer to strengthen the squad and come back stronger."

Given was thrilled to be between the sticks for the Republic last night, albeit a 5-0 win over Northern Ireland meant a quiet night for the goalkeeper.

He said: "It was nice to get playing again. I would have liked to have been a bit busier but the lads played very well and we scored some good goals.

"It was nice to pull the jersey back on and go through the mental side of things of preparing for the game, although I didn't have much to do.

"Northern Ireland actually started all right and had a good chance very early on. Maybe that was a wake-up call for us and we played some good stuff.

"I know Northern Ireland had a young team but we should take lots of positives from the goals we scored."

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