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By ESPN Staff

Friedel backs Given to shine

Shay Given is being backed by his Aston Villa predecessor, Brad Friedel, to play on into his 40s and put 12 months of frustration at Manchester City behind him this season.

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Friedel ended a successful three-year spell at Villa Park this summer when moving to Tottenham but believes Given is a quality replacement after he made the £3.5 million switch from City.

He found himself replaced as Roberto Mancini's number one by Joe Hart but the 35-year-old wants to rebuild his career after signing a five year contract at Villa.

Friedel said: "Shay has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League for probably the past 10 years, if not a little bit longer. When you're looking at signing a first-team goalkeeper, in my opinion, there was no one better than Shay out there.

"The Aston Villa fans demand and deserve quality performers on the pitch and Shay is definitely a top-quality guy. I think he's an absolutely brilliant signing for Aston Villa Football Club.

"They needed to go out and get a very experienced number one goalkeeper and there is no-one who fits the bill better than Shay.''

Friedel added: "Shay had a year of not playing first team regular football and it must be said this was through no fault of his own. He was kept out by a very good goalkeeper in Joe Hart. Shay did not play himself out of the position in any way, shape or form.

"It was just that Joe had a tremendous season at Birmingham, went back to Manchester City and performed well in pre-season, then had a very good season in the Premier League.

"There is not much Shay could have done about that. I'm sure, it was probably the most frustrating thing that a goalkeeper of Shay's quality has ever had to endure. But it may prove to be good for himself and his body to have had that rest. In fact, it could help greatly.''

Friedel admitted: "I see absolutely no reason that Shay can't play into his 40s. You have to look after yourself, which I know Shay does.

"I know he's a very prudent trainer. He's looked after his body very well. You also need to have the luck of draw with injuries and Shay has avoided any serious problems.

"Ultimately, too, you have to have some skill and of course Shay has this in abundance. He's been given a five-year contract by Villa and I can understand why. I'm sure Shay will end up being a focal point for them over the duration of his career at the club.''

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