SHAY GIVEN thinks it will feel like he has “unfinished business” when he leaves Middlesbrough later this month.
The Aston Villa goalkeeper was left frustrated on deadline day when his parent club refused to sanction a window-to-window loan until the end of the season.
That means he is guaranteed to leave Middlesbrough when his emergency loan deal expires on February 28, six days after his final appearance against Leeds United.
When he does return to Villa Park, he hopes Middlesbrough are in a strong enough position for the final nine weeks of the season to push on and claim a play-off place.
Having helped lay the foundations with nine clean sheets from his 13 appearances since arriving from the Premier League club in late November, the experienced goalkeeper would have preferred to finish off the job he helped start.
“It’s gone really well while I have been here and I’ve really enjoyed playing again,” said Given. “There will probably be a feeling of unfinished business because we have been in a good moment.
“I do feel we have an outside chance of still getting in the play-offs if we can get some goals and clean sheets. It will be a shame I can’t be more involved in that.
“When I wasn’t playing at Aston Villa I always wanted to be playing. This has whetted my appetite again to get back in it. I didn’t find it a difficult transition to get back in to it. I just sort of slotted back in to it.
“I have enjoyed the buzz again of making saves and being in and around the team. It’s been nice to be playing again and I want to keep playing. It will be frustrating going back but that’s the situation I am in.”
The 37-year-old Irishman was still waiting to learn if an agreement had been reached last Friday, with the clock ticking towards the 11pm deadline for a deal to be agreed.
But in the end Given had to accept Aston Villa – who might have been tempted had Middlesbrough paid a substantial loan fee for just a few months - were not going to budge. The worry, though, will be that he ends up playing against Middlesbrough in the closing weeks of the season.
“It’s been out of my hands really and pretty much out of Middlesbrough’s hands too,” said Given, who had indicated to Aitor Karanka that he would have stayed.
“Aston Villa wanted to have that 24-hour recall they have on the emergency loan in case something happened to Brad Guzan. Had they extended the loan until the end of the season they couldn’t call me back. That recall would have been scrapped.
“Villa didn’t feel they could take that risk. They wanted somebody with experience as an option to call on. I could possibly go to another Championship club when I go back there. But I can’t come back to Middlesbrough.”
The summer is likely to be another uncertain time for the former Newcastle and Sunderland goalkeeper. With two years remaining on a lucrative contract, he faces further discussions over his future and he admits he could move on permanently somewhere.
But he is not sure about the possibility of returning to Middlesbrough, where he feels Karanka already has a top goalkeeper in former England Under-21s shot-stopper Jason Steele.
“People said would you take a step down when I came here and I didn’t have a problem with that,” said Given. “Aston Villa are my parent club and I have to do what is right for them too and what is right for Paul Lambert.
“It’s just about getting a club who wants me. It’s out of my hands whether I would come back to Middlesbrough. Jason Steele has been out with his ankle injury and, in a sense, when my thing runs out he should be fully fit then. He is a top keeper as well and he has been first choice keeper for years.
“I don’t know if they will want a new keeper in the summer because they are not really short of them. I just hope there will be a few options for me. Hopefully this spell at Middlesbrough will have shown I still have a lot to offer.”
Given was in Darlington yesterday to formally open the Martin Gray Football Academy’s new base at the Eastbourne Sports Complex.
The complex boasts a full size pitch, several practice pitches, a gym and an academic training suite and will be a hub for the academies, which will help provide football coaching courses alongside educational courses at a strong of academic venues across the North-East.
Given said: “It’s great facilities and the kids are being educated in the classroom and on the football pitch. It’s very important that young footballers develop their education as well.”