Ireland stopper ready for step up

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Shay Given will rekindle memories of one of the proudest moments of his international career when he runs out against Russia on Friday evening.

The 34-year-old made his Ireland debut against the Russians at Lansdowne Road in March 1996 but is maintaining a diplomatic silence on a lack of football at Manchester City as he prepared for Friday's Group B clash.

"It's not ideal, obviously, maybe more so for the outfield players because they have got to physically run around for a lot longer than I will be running around, I suppose," said Given. "But all I know is whoever the manager picks on Friday, we will give our all for our country, as we have always done."

He added: "That's all you can ask in any sport, to do your best, and I am sure Glenn and Robbie and myself will do our best come Friday night."

Ireland launched their campaign with reasonably routine victories over Armenia and Andorra last month, but know the challenge this time around is far stiffer with Slovakia, who have already beaten the Russians in Moscow, awaiting them in Zilina next Tuesday evening.

Given said: "It's a different level. We have only got off to a good start, we know that, and that's all we could do last month.

"But we know these two games will probably prove where we are as a team and ultimately if we are going to qualify for the European Championships."

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Manchester City
Premier League
Shay Given

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