Villa close to Given deal
Aston Villa are hopeful Shay Given will become Alex McLeish's first signing next week in a £3.5million move from Manchester City. Villa are poised to replace one veteran in Brad Friedel with another in 35-year-old Given who wants the chance to play first-team football again. The two clubs have held talks and sources close to Villa are optimistic a deal will be finalised sooner rather than later. Given was the number one at Newcastle for more than a decade before moving to Eastlands two and a half years ago. But the emergence of England keeper Joe Hart - who played under McLeish when on loan at Birmingham - cost him his place last season. Personal terms are not expected to be a major stumbling block even though Given is reported to be on £80,000 a week at City. The expected arrival of Given, however, will not lead to the departure of Brad Guzan who had a spell on loan at Hull last season. McLeish is keen for the American to provide back-up to Given along with Andy Marshall. He said: "I'd like to hold onto Brad, definitely. I don't think we will be letting him go at this particular stage." Villa report back for pre-season training today with McLeish set for further talks with in-demand winger Stewart Downing. McLeish is desperate to keep the England international and has rejected offers of £12 million and £15 million from Liverpool. It now remains to be seen whether Downing will force the issue by asking for a transfer. One player who will be absent from training today is midfielder Fabian Delph who is still recovering from ankle surgery at the end of the season.
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