Paul Lambert has tipped experienced goalkeeper Shay Given to put Ireland’s Euro 2012 nightmare behind him and prove his Premier League class with Villa.
Given has been allowed extra time off, along with compatriot Richard Dunne, after taking part in their country’s ill-fated campaign in Ukraine and Poland.
The duo will link up with the rest of the squad on Monday morning when Lambert’s claret and blues depart for their ten-day pre-season tour in America.
Given has come in for criticism after his high standards from last season slipped as Giovanni Trapattoni’s men were knocked out in the group stage of Euro 2012.
But the 36-year-old goalkeeper was carrying a series of injuries during the tournament and Lambert is convinced he will have benefited from his recent rest.
“He’s had a brilliant career, he’s a really top keeper,” said Lambert.
“It’s easy to criticise a goalkeeper when a ball goes into the net.
“I’ve done it myself, it’s easy to turn around and blame them, but they need help. Every player needs help.
“Everybody must stick together and if you do that you’ve got a chance.”
Lambert has revealed Given’s understudy, Brad Guzan, will be given a genuine chance to stake a claim for the No.1 jersey when he finalises a new contract shortly.
However, rumours of Given’s demise are greatly exaggerated and the new manager will judge him solely on his club form rather than a tricky international summer.
“Whether Shay Given played brilliantly in the Euros or he had the tournament he had wouldn’t matter one jot to me,” said Lambert.
“Because when he comes back my main concern is what he does from now on in.
“What has happened you can’t change it, so I’m not interested in that.
“It’s now that’s more important. It’s now that is the main focus and we have the chance to rectify what happened last year with the doom and gloom and that’s something we have to do.”
Lambert is also expecting a positive response from Dunne who also failed to cover himself in glory during Ireland’s disappointing defeats to Croatia, Spain and Italy.
The 32-year-old centre half will be challenged to completely overcome his collarbone injury and rediscover his best form in the final year of his Villa contract.
“Shay and Richard are two experienced lads, they’re not kids and they’ve been round the course before,” said Lambert.
“I spoke to the two of them earlier on in the Euros.
“It was a hard tournament for them with what happened. But they’ve done great for Villa in the past and had fantastic football careers let alone anything else.
“They’ve been over the course before and once I see them I’ll have another chat with them.”