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Shay is huge influence

Shay Given at Ewood park

Shay Given at Ewood park

City arrive in Portsmouth tomorrow with more than one unblemished record on the line.

Six points from two games have powered the Blues out of the blocks in the race for the top of the table and they have achieved both victories without conceding a goal.

Mark Hughes' side are the only Premier League team yet to pick the ball out of their own net and that in no short measure is down to the form of the man between the posts Shay Given.

In all the furore and giddy excitement about the arrival of a phalanx of strikers this summer, the supreme ability of the Republic of Ireland international is perhaps sometimes overlooked by those outside the confines of CoMS and Carrington.

But his move from Newcastle is looking like one of the best pieces of business conducted by City who didn’t manage three Premier League sheets in succession last term.

Certainly manager Mark Hughes and new arrival Kolo Toure are in no doubts about the qualities of the last line in defence.

“Shay brings maturity and experience to his position,” heralded the manager. “It is not just his ability to keep the ball out of the net that benefits us but the way he commands the defence and reads the game. He is a great talker and organiser at the back.”

Toure, who skippered the side to success at Palace on Thursday and is likely to continue in the role at Fratton Park, is equally effusive following four shut outs in the past couple of weeks.

“Shay is a fantastic goalkeeper to play in front of,” enthused the central defender. “He is so calm and he reads the game very well and that is always a great thing for those in front of him. Shay is very experienced and whenever you make a mistake he is there at exactly the right time.

“Keeping clean sheets is not just about the back four and the goalkeeper though it is about the whole team defending as unit.  We have to make sure we keep doing that and improve on it where we can.”

*Don’t forget the website team will be bringing you our unrivalled package of coverage from the match at Portsmouth.

Our reporter on the spot will update the running commentary of each game every couple of minutes from Fratton Park and you will also have at your fingertips the best, state-of-the-art presentation of match facts and statistics, constantly updated to reflect the flow of the game and keep you fully informed.

Team line-ups in formation, goals, corners, yellow cards, images from the game - everything is there ... plus audio from Key 103 to bring a flavour of the match atmosphere to your screen followed by quotes, a considered verdict and video interviews!

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