Hart and Given ready for head-to-head for Man City No.1 spot

Manchester City keepers Shay Given and Joe Hart are about to battle for the No.1 jersey at Eastlands this season.

Manchester City keepers Shay Given and Joe Hart are about to battle for the No.1 jersey at Eastlands this season.

Hart, 23, spent last season on loan at Birmingham and quickly established himself as first-choice at St Andrews, going on to have an impressive campaign.

Given, meanwhile, started 35 league games and only missed the last three matches because he dislocated his shoulder against Arsenal.

The 34-year-old Republic of Ireland said: "Joe is eager to establish himself for City and England but I have that hunger as well," he told The People.

"If you look at the other top goalkeepers in the Premier League like Edwin van der Sar, Brad Friedel and David James, they're all in their late 30s or even 40.

"Joe is a very good keeper and he proved that last season at Birmingham. He had a fantastic year, was player of the season there and he will quite rightly feel that he should be playing now.

"But I was bitterly disappointed to miss the last three games of last season and I am as desperate as anyone to start the opening game.

"I knew I was joining a club with huge ambitions and if you look through all areas of the squad, there is competition for every place. That's how it should be at a top team.

"It will give both of us an extra edge and I'm looking forward to it.

"It's definitely good to have that rivalry now Joe is back at the club but at 34 I am an experienced goalkeeper and I don't worry about an error costing me my place in the team."

Hart was part of the England squad which woefully crashed out of the World Cup this summer and is keen to get more pitch-time under his belt and hopes he can do enough to play a part in City's campaign, despite his positive relationship with Given.

He added: "I have a great relationship with Shay. He came in the January before last and came straight in for me. I thought he was a good guy and I felt I did my best for him.

"We've got a good relationship. It's not even discussed between us, it's down to the manager.

"We're both doing our best to catch his eye and play. We're both the kind of people who will get on with it. That's what I admire a lot about Shay he'll play on regardless.

"But this is a big season for me and I intend to do everything I can to make sure it's a success.

"All I want to do is play but if that's not the case then I'll have to reconsider what's going on.

"At the moment, I'm just really concentrating on getting that No.1 spot after Birmingham gave me a chance last season."

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