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Given makes claim for Man City No1 spot with two penalty saves

| 29.07.2010

Pre-season friendlies are often disregarded as having little impact on major team decisions for the year ahead, but Shay Given and Javier Hernandez will not be of that mindset.

The Republic of Ireland keeper made a strong claim for the Manchester City gloves, by pulling off two penalty saves in the side’s spot-kick duel with Club America last night.

And the striker nicknamed Little Pea scored a perfectly-weighted lob to mark his Manchester United debut with a goal.

City are 5/1 and United 2/1 to win a more meaningful event: the Premier League.

England keeper Joe Hart had returned from a holiday early in order to play in City’s first American tour games, with the aim of staking a place for the season to come.

But Given went straight into Roberto Mancini’s XI at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta after recovering from injury, and despite conceding a goal to Enrique Esqueda looked every bit the club’s number one.

Such a display will be dismaying to Hart, who may have to settle for a place on the bench if he doesn’t go out on loan – hitting his hopes for a place in the England team for their Euro qualifiers.

While the keeper competition will give Mancini a nice headache, the Italian will have an altogether more painful time trying to work out how to improve his defence.

City’s tour of the USA has been a humbling one and the 1-1 draw last night – when an Emmanuel Adebayor penalty was cancelled out with a goal from a simple long ball – followed a 2-0 defeat to Sporting Lisbon and a 2-1 loss to New York.

Granted, many of the team’s stars are not on the transatlantic jaunt but after a string of backline blunders, Tottenham Hotspur, City’s top-four rival and opening day opponents, will fancy grabbing a victory at White Hart Lane (6/5).

Hernandez’s goal was the fifth of a stellar United display against the MLS All Stars as Sir Alex Ferguson’s men ran out 5-2 winners.

18-year-old Federico Macheda, who should feature more this campaign, bagged a nice brace before Darron Gibson scored a 25-yard free-kick and Tom Cleverley notched a Gazza-esque goal.

Such is 22-year-old Hernandez’s seemingly unflappable temperament in front of goal, he could be worth a bet at 40/1 to win the Golden Boot in his first season.



Richard Anderson