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By ESPN Staff

Goalkeeper Given commits future to Newcastle

Shay Given has committed his future to Newcastle amid speculation he is wanted by Arsenal.

The 32-year-old Irishman insists he is happy at St James' Park 10 years after his arrival and is focussing only on the club's drive to establish themselves back among the Barclays Premier League's elite.

Arsene Wenger is known to be an admirer of the Lifford-born goalkeeper and is understood to have identified him as a possible target.

However, Given claims he has heard nothing and is concentrating on the task of regaining full fitness after the groin surgery which allowed Steve Harper to establish himself in the side at the end of last season.

The Republic of Ireland international said: 'I don't know where the story came from.

'I have said all along that I'm extremely happy living and playing here in Newcastle. I want to help to move this club forward.

'Hopefully we will get new players in and strengthen the squad. We want to get this place going.'

Given has been one of the club's most consistent performers over the last decade and has experienced both the highs and the lows of an eventful few years on Tyneside.

But having avoided injury for much of his career at St James' to leave Harper kicking his heels for lengthy periods, he has endured a difficult time since an horrific clash with then West Ham striker Marlon Harewood in September 2006.

He was left with a perforated bowel - an injury doctors likened to those often suffered by road accident victims - and has been plagued by groin problems ever since.

Given is hoping the operation he had as the last campaign drew to a close has addressed the issue once and for all, and is now eagerly anticipating the challenge of persuading manager Kevin Keegan that he is the man to provide the last line of defence once again.

He said: 'I am just raring to go and ready to play football again.

'It has been a long close season and it was a long end to the season as well.

'I was working on fitness towards the end of last season and continued that throughout the summer. I feel as fit and strong as I have ever felt.

'I have done a lot of rehabilitation with the physios and been in the gym. Now I am just ready to get back out on the field.

'I only had a bit of a break, but even when I was away I was doing my work and training.

'I'd had a break after I had an operation, so my aim was always to get fit for the start of pre-season, not the end. As I say, I feel as fit as ever, so it has paid off.'


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