Shay Given says Aston Villa staying in the Premier League is the priority

Shay Given: Aston Villa goalkeeper waiting for a chance

Gary Gardner: Aston Villa midfielder is back in light training after knee injury

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Shay Given insists Aston Villa staying in the Premier League remains the priority during his ongoing battle to reclaim his place in the team.

The veteran goalkeeper has started only two league games this season after losing his spot to Brad Guzan and has been waiting for a chance to get back into the side.

However, with Villa just three points outside the relegation zone with eight games left to play, Given stressed everyone is focused on the fight for top-flight survival.

"My fitness is fine," said Given in the Birmingham Mail. "I'm just keeping my head down and hoping to get a chance. To be fair to Brad he's been playing some great stuff and doing really well.

"It is a tough one for the manager to pick one of us. He has gone with Brad this season and it has been difficult for me at times because when you work hard all week and come match day you are not playing, it is hard."

Shay Given

"It is a tough one for the manager to pick one of us. He has gone with Brad this season and it has been difficult for me at times because when you work hard all week and come match day you are not playing, it is hard.

"But the most important thing is Villa being in the Premier League next season. We're all pulling in the same direction."

Meanwhile, Villa midfielder Gary Gardner is aiming to push on after returning to training following seven months on the sidelines due to a knee injury.

"It's not a good experience, it's a bad one and it's just the time length," said Gardner.

"Once it's healed, you do that much leg strengthening and fitness work that you're stronger than ever. Injuries make you stronger and this one has definitely, 100 per cent, made me stronger.

"It's been a hard time and there's been days when I've been coming home and it's been tough. It brings back memories of when I was out with my left knee and what I did to help my mind.

"Being out for so long that frustrates you but you've got to leave it all behind you - it's a hazard of the game.

"I'm happy that I'm back in training now and hopefully I can kick on."