Shay Given wants to start against Poland

Forde and Given battling it out to start against Poland

Forde and Given battling it out to start against Poland

Shay Given has claimed he is ready to take centre stage for the Republic of Ireland in Sunday’s crucial Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland in Dublin.

The veteran stopper has been second choice for Ireland boss Martin O'Neill behind Millwall's David Forde since his return to the international fold, but he has been in good form with Aston Villa during their run to the FA Cup semi-finals.

Given will celebrate his 39th birthday next month, but the veteran who made his Ireland debut in 1996 says he feels his time has come to make a return to the Irish first eleven.

“I'd love to play. You want to play in the game because it is such a huge game," Given told reporters. 

“Getting into the team is the first thing you want to do. Obviously, I don't pick the team, the manager makes the decision who is going to play.

"The goalkeepers in general, David, (Kieren) Westwood and (Darren) Randolph, we're all a tight team together. Whoever he picks, we'll support them as I said before.

“We're not going to go around two-footing them so you'll get a game or anything like that. You do wish them well, but at the same time your personal pride and professionalism, you want to play in the game.

“I just got to work hard in training. I've been sort of playing well at Aston Villa when given the chance as well and hopefully I might get the nod Sunday, but if not I'll support whoever the manager picks.”

Meanwhile, O'Neill is hopeful to have a full squad to select from for Sunday's game, even though James McCarthy, Darron Gibson and Stephen Ward sat out training on Monday.

Ireland new-boy Harry Arter, who scored a sensational goal for Championship table toppers Bournemouth on Saturday, is set to link up with the Ireland squad for the first time tomorrow, while record goal scorer Robbie Keane is set to arrive in Dublin for training on Tuesday.

Or as LA Galaxy put it in this American-style soccer language with this tweet on Monday night:

Go get 'em tiger! Robbie Keane has departed for international duty with @FAIreland: #COYBIG

— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) March 24, 2015