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Shay plans a warm welcome for rival Joe

Shay Given

Shay Given

Shay Given will relish the tussle for No.1 spot next season if Roberto Mancini decides to bring back young England goalkeeper Joe Hart from his loan at Birmingham.

Republic of Ireland star Given, who leapfrogged Hart when he signed from Newcastle last year, knows he will have a battle on his hands after his rival blossomed at St Andrews.

Blues boss Mancini revealed this week that he will hold end-of-season talks with 22-year-old Hart, who is widely expected to be in Fabio Capello's England squad for the World Cup.

But Given said: "I wouldn't mind if Joe returns in the summer. I don't mind fighting it out - that happened for years at Newcastle, and I've had to fight for my place with Ireland.

That is part and parcel of being with a top team - I don't have any problem with that. Joe was No.1 here when I signed and we worked really well together



"The competition has been there since I joined. Just because Joe is at Birmingham doesn't mean I don't feel the competition from him. He is still a City player and is doing very well.

"There is pressure here not just from Joe, but from Stuart Taylor and Gunnar Nielsen as well. You know if you don't perform there is always a chance the club could bring someone else in. If you want a successful team, there has to be competition in every position."

Given has been keeping a friendly eye on the pleasing progress of his young rival, who is prevented from facing his parent club in tomorrow's key home match by Premier League rules.

He said: "Joe has done really well and deserves to be playing for England - if he keeps his form there's no reason he shouldn't play in the World Cup. That can only be good for City."

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