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Serie A
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By ESPN Staff

Shay Given still has self-belief

New Aston Villa signing Shay Given has assured fans his confidence has not been dented by a season on the sidelines at Manchester City.

• Aston Villa sign Given

But Given, who signed for Villa for a fee of around £3.5 million after falling behind Joe Hart in the Eastlands pecking order, has admitted he needs to build up his match-sharpness ahead of his team's first game against Fulham.

He said: "I think my confidence is okay because the Republic of Ireland games kept me going. You do get a little bit rusty because you're not playing so many games, but I'm excited to be getting back and getting match-sharp again.

"My two young kids kept me busy. It's about not losing the confidence in your own ability.''

Given, 35, added that the idea of returning to first-team action has reinvigorated his appetite for the game.

He said: "The biggest thing missing was the buzz of matchday and playing, so I'm just really excited about getting going again.

"It was frustrating, knowing you're training with no chance of playing, but the manager made a decision and you've got to respect that.

Given has signed a five-year deal at the club, but says the length of the contract does not faze him.

He said: "I'm not frightened by the five years, I'm quite looking forward to a great spell at Aston Villa.

"You look at Brad Friedel, who's 40 and just signed a two-year contract at Tottenham, and Edwin van der Sar, who was 40 last season and probably had one of the best seasons of his career, so in terms of age, I want to play football as long as I can.''

New Villa boss Alex McLeish explained he picked Given out of an impressive shortlist of goalkeepers due to his international and Premier League record.

He said: "There were some great goalkeepers out there, including Ben Foster, but Shay was a long-term target.

"I admired his huge international experience, and having done diligence on him over the years, I know what kind of character he is.

"He's a good five years younger than Brad Friedel, and Brad is still getting contracts in the Premier League at a fantastic level. I felt that he had the gravitas to come and play here.''

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