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Villa Park's Irish shot-stopper has said he is looking forward to making the trip back to the North-East to face his former side for first time since he left in 2009

Aston Villa’s Shay Given is preparing to face his former team Newcastle United for the first time since he left the club to join Manchester City in 2009.

The Irish goalkeeper enjoyed 12 years with Newcastle and made 461 appearances for the Magpies before moving on and joining the Eastlands revolution. Now at Villa Park, the shot-stopper is looking forward to returning to his old stomping ground with Alan Pardew's side sitting comfortably in the top seven.

Given told The Observer: “It will be special going back there. I had great times and I have great memories. I've always been very grateful for the support that I had when I was at the club and it will be nice to thank the fans because I haven't been back since I left.

"At one point I did think I would be there for life. But then things change and you change yourself a little bit. Sometimes you can go stale at a club. At the time I left I felt it was right for me [to go to Manchester City]. It was a new challenge and a new lease of life because you can get a little bit stuck in your ways. But I enjoyed my time at Newcastle."

During the 35-year-old’s spell on Tyneside he worked under eight different managers, a hectic turnover that could be described as a bit mad during the current climate.

Given added: “Yeah, I think it was. Stability wasn't high up on the agenda when it came to managers.

“The most successful period we had was under Sir Bobby Robson and I think we finished fourth, third and fifth in consecutive seasons. And then they decided to get rid of Bobby when we finished fifth and just missed out on the Champions League for a third year in a row.

"The thing about Newcastle is if there is a defeat or a couple of bad results, then it's a full-blown crisis. It's just one of those cities.

“But the people are obviously very happy up there at the moment at the way their team are playing and the results they are getting. There's no crisis on the horizon I can see."

The Aston Villa man has been impressed by the emergence of Newcastle’s Tim Krul this season.

“A lot of the Dutch players have that sort of belief in their ability, and you could see it in Tim from a young age. [Edwin] Van der Sar was in a similar kind of mould," Given said.

"Tim has been fantastic this season and one of the reasons why Newcastle are so high in the league is because of his form. He has gone to a new level and been one of the goalkeepers of the season."

Given’s time at Villa Park started well but a hamstring injury and a lack of consistency in the side’s performances have meant they have underachieved so far this season.

He added: “We need to be doing better. I have no fear of looking over our shoulder. It's more about pushing on.

“But it's no good me sitting here and just saying that. We've got to do it. This is a very big club and people shouldn't forget that."


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