Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

United Given a Build-Up Problem

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

United Given a Build-Up Problem

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

Newcastle United's preparations for Saturday's Premiership opener have been disrupted by a back injury to Shay Given.

Although the man voted the Premiership's best goalkeeper by his fellow professionals last season is not expected to miss the visit of Wigan Athletic, it is nonetheless another distraction manager Glenn Roeder could do without.

The Magpies' defence has looked shaky in pre-season, and knowing their goalkeeper is less than 100% fit is unlikely to help confidence. Given picked up the problem in last week's Uefa Cup second qualifying tie against FK Ventspils and has been withdrawn from the Republic of Ireland's friendly against Holland on Wednesday.

"Steve Staunton has allowed us to withdraw Shay from the Ireland squad for the game against Holland," Roeder revealed on the club's official website. "Instead, Shay will remain on Tyneside and have treatment for a slight back problem.

"I was grateful to Steve for allowing Shay to stay here and receive treatment."

With Given having missed only two Premiership games in the last five seasons, Steve Harper will not be building up his hopes of a rare start, but the news will only add to the disruption Roeder must deal with as he prepares for the visit of Paul Jewell's men.

Roeder is still working on a number of transfers in and out of the club, and will be without a host of internationals in training during what, from a Premiership perpective, is a particularly badly-timed programme of international matches this week.

Stephen Carr, Alan O'Brien, Damien Duff and Jean-Alain Boumsong have all been called up for midweek friendlies, while Steven Taylor and James Milner are on duty with England's Under-21s.

While Boumsong will almost certainly not start against the Latics, Roeder will be hoping his most expensive centre-back comes through France's game in Bosnia-Herzegovina on Wednesday unscathed. …

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