My only focus is Aston Villa avoiding relegation, says Given

The Republic of Ireland international has lost his place in the team to American goalkeeper Brad Guzan this season, but he agrees that his former understudy deserves his chance

Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given is adamant that his only focus is the club's bid to avoid relegation from the Premier League, rather than losing his place to Brad Guzan.

Paul Lambert's Villa have been battling against relegation for most of the season and currently sit 17th, three points above Wigan who occupy the final spot in the bottom three, leaving Given to feel everyone must be on the same wave length to avoid the drop.

The Irishman has had a difficult season, playing just two league games and watching Guzan usurp him as the undisputed first choice keeper, but feels the American has justified his inclusion.

He told the Birmingham Mail: "My fitness is fine. I'm just keeping my head down and hoping to get a chance. To be fair to Brad he's been playing some great stuff and doing really well.

"It is a tough one for the manager to pick one of us. He has gone with Brad this season and it has been difficult for me at times because when you work hard all week and come match day you are not playing, it is hard.

"But the most important thing is Villa being in the Premier League next season. We're all pulling in the same direction."

Gary Gardner is another Villa player who has endured a tough campaign, but his troubles revolve around a serious knee injury and now his road to recovery is almost complete, he feels stronger than ever.

"It's not a good experience, it's a bad one and it's just the time length," said Gardner.

"Once it's healed, you do that much leg strengthening and fitness work that you're stronger than ever. Injuries make you stronger and this one has definitely, 100 per cent, made me stronger.

"It's been a hard time and there's been days when I've been coming home and it's been tough. It brings back memories of when I was out with my left knee and what I did to help my mind.

"Being out for so long that frustrates you but you've got to leave it all behind you - it's a hazard of the game.

"I'm happy that I'm back in training now and hopefully I can kick on."