Given ready for decider

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Shay Given has no intention of sampling the bitter taste of World Cup play-off defeat a second time.

The 33-year-old Republic of Ireland keeper has experienced both the sheer elation of victory and the utter devastation of defeat in the sudden death decider in the past. But it is the emotions he experienced in Tehran eight years ago when the Republic saw off Iran to reach the 2002 finals upon which he will call as he attempts to book a return trip to the biggest stage of all.

Given said: "It's going to be a nerve-wracking time for everyone, I suppose. We all want to be there. I have been in the play-offs before - we have lost one and won one as well, and I know which feeling I preferred."

He added: "The highlight of my career was getting to the World Cup, and we would love to get back there.

"We know it's going to be tough, but we don't fear anyone. We played the world champions on Saturday and but for a minute or two, we would have won the game, so we don't fear anyone going into next month."

Ireland's 2-2 draw with Italy on Saturday evening ensured they will be in the hat for next Monday's play-off draw and made the result of Wednesday's game against Montenegro largely irrelevant.

However, Given and his team-mates are determined to end their Group Eight campaign undefeated on a night when much of the attention will focus on the Manchester City keeper and team-mate Kevin Kilbane who will both earn their 100th cap.

The keeper, who will captain the side, made his international debut against Russia in March 1996, and Kilbane against Iceland in the September of the following year, but both will complete centuries on the same night to move to within two caps of record holder Steve Staunton.

Given said: "I was 19 at the time, so it's a good few years ago and a few wrinkles ago, but it was a momentous occasion for me and my family. I was very proud to play for my country."

"Making 100 caps, myself and Kevin Kilbane on the same night, we will both be very proud wearing the Irish jersey once more. To make it 100 times is very, very special."

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Manchester City
Premier League
Kevin Kilbane
Shay Given

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