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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Mark McCadden

France defeat leaves Shay Given MORE confident in Ireland's Euro 2024 prospects

Shay Given is more confident now of Ireland’s Euro 2024 prospects than he was BEFORE the defeat to France.

The performance of Stephen Kenny’s side in the 1-0 reversal last week has given the former goalkeeper reason to believe that the Boys in Green can get out of their group.

With the Netherlands also vying for the top two spots, it’s the toughest task facing an Irish side since Given and Co qualified for the 2002 World Cup.

“I actually have more belief that Ireland will qualify after the game than I did before,” said Given, in an interview with LeoVegas.

“I actually have more belief that Ireland will qualify after the game than I did before,” he said. “I know we got nothing from the game because it was a defeat, but the performance level was absolutely brilliant.”

Nathan Collins was a world-class save away from earning Ireland a point against the World Cup finalists.

And Given added: “On another day, Mike Maignan doesn’t save that Nathan Collins header, and we get a draw from the game.

“I think there were so many positives to come out of the game and they have to use it going forward – that’s the bar they’ve set as a team, and they can’t drop below that.

“If they maintain that level, they’ve got a really good chance of qualifying. They need to believe that themselves too.

“When they meet up and watch the game back and see all the positive things they did on the night, it’ll give them so much belief for the games coming up.”

Given, who was capped 134 times for Ireland, was also impressed by the form of Evan Ferguson in the games against Latvia and France.

The 18-year-old returned to the Premier League earlier this week and scored a brilliant goal in Brighton’s 2-0 win over Bournemouth.

“I’ve spoken about Evan Ferguson before and how good he’s doing for Brighton in the Premier League, and he picked up another brilliant goal for them against Bournemouth on Tuesday,” said Given.

“To score on your first start for your national side (against Latvia) will also do him no harm at all, and you can see him holding that number nine jersey for Ireland for the next ten years – I think he’s that good.

“He’ll definitely have games where he’ll have a bigger influence than he did against France, but when you’re playing against such a good side, you’re going to be asked to perform a selfless job for the team.

“I think he did the role really well and was able to get Ireland up the pitch by holding the ball, and he had some nice little touches too, so he’ll only grow into that position with experience.

“For him to then come back to the Premier League for Brighton and score again shows what he’s all about. He’s going to be a massive player for both Brighton and Ireland.”

Meanwhile, Given would love to see Matt Doherty get more game-time at Atletico Madrid.

The former Tottenham wing-back put in an excellent display on the left-hand-side of the Irish defence against France, despite his lack of appearances in La Liga.

Prior to the international break, he made just one substitute appearance for his new side.

“It's a difficult one,” said Given. “He played left wing-back for Ireland against France and he’s only played once for Atletico this season, so it’s probably not worked out how he wanted.

“He’s still training with top players every week, but it doesn’t get away from the fact that he’s not getting 90 minutes, so the situation isn’t ideal.

“He played against Latvia for a long period and did well, but the summer games for Ireland aren’t until June, so you’d like to see him get more game time before the end of the season.

“I thought he did okay for someone who hasn’t played much football throughout the season.

“I think he’s available on a free transfer in the summer, so I’m sure there will be teams who will be looking at him.

“He’s coming from Tottenham, so he could join a top six side or perhaps the bracket of teams below them, but I believe he’s still got lots to offer.”


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