Shay's Place Not A 'Given'
Shay Given has seen his season hampered by injuries, and as he battles back from his most recent lay-off Kevin Keegan has hinted that when he is fit he will not automatically dislodge Steve Harper: 'There's no doubt about it, Shay's absolutely top notch, and Stevie is right there with him, and he's proved it in these games.
'We have protected him well, but whenever he has had to do anything, he's done it well.
'That's not a surprise - he has done it before. It's well known around the leagues that, in the Premier, we have probably got the two best keepers.
'Some have probably got a number one and a number two - we have always had two that are very close.
'Shay has had the nod for a long time, but through circumstances, Stevie has got the opportunity.
'He's been very loyal. He cares, don't get me wrong, he doesn't like not being in the team.
'But he knows how to handle not being in the team - and he knows how to handle being in it.'
Harper has seen his chances limited over the past decade at the club, but has never publicly complained like so many others would have and has rarely (if ever) let the Toon down when called upon. The longer that he stays in the side the harder it will be for Given to replace him again, on merit anyway.
Harper has always been loyal, and patient but will Given prove the same should he not get his place back in the starting line-up once fit?
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