Alex McLeish has tipped Shay Given to save Villa plenty more points this season after delivering a positive fitness bulletin on the new No.1.
Given will resume full training tomorrow after being advised to rest up following the slight groin problem he sustained in Saturday’s goalless draw at Fulham.
The former Manchester City stopper was in unbeatable form at Craven Cottage on Saturday with a string of vital saves to earn a deserved clean sheet.
And Given is expected to be fit and raring to go for his and McLeish’s home debuts in Saturday afternoon’s Premier League clash against Blackburn at Villa Park.
“He’s on the mend,” confirmed McLeish. “His reading of the game is terrific. He’s still got the reaction times that sometimes a goalkeeper needs. It’s all about reactions.
“You see some goalkeepers trying to read it and diving the same way and things like that but Shay was absolutely spot on at the weekend.”
McLeish is keen to stress that Saturday’s opening day draw at Fulham was a team effort rather than a one-man Shay Given show.
But the Villa boss admits a goalkeeper of Given’s class can often turn defeats into draws and draws into wins.
“I hope we don’t have to rely on Shay in every single game,” said McLeish. “But certainly we know that great goalkeepers are worth their weight in gold in terms of extra points.
“Edwin Van der Sar for many years was a world class goalkeeper and that was because he helped his team win titles by saving them 15 to 20 points a season.”
Given’s tight groin strain at the end of the Fulham game was not severe enough to warrant the Irish international being replaced with understudy Brad Guzan.
He let defender James Collins take the goal-kicks when he experienced discomfort.
McLeish added: “It was totally precautionary to let James take the goal kicks.
“We’re just going to let his groin settle down and he’ll be training Thursday.
“Shay knows his own body at the age of 35 and if he doesn’t know it now then he’ll never know it. That’s the measure of his experience.”