Shane Irish future a Given - Joe

SHANE Supple was today tipped to be Shay Given's successor as long-term Republic of Ireland goalkeeper.

Elvin King

SHANE Supple was today tipped to be Shay Given's successor as long-term Republic of Ireland goalkeeper.

The 22-year-old, who last week signed a new one-year Ipswich Town contract extension, has played just one Blues first team game in the last two seasons.

But the man who gave him his Town debut predicts a tough time ahead for Richard Wright to retain his number one position at Portman Road.

Joe Royle was Town manager to May 2006, and Supple was just 18 when he made his debut in August 2005 at Leicester as a substitute for Lewis Price.

Royle took charge of Oldham for the final nine games of last season, and he took Supple on loan.

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“Shane was outstanding for me at Boundary Park,” said Royle. “I could not have asked for any more.

“From the first time I saw him as a kid when his jersey was too long for his arms I have seen him as the natural successor to Shay Given in the Irish senior side.

“Given a free run of injury and given the opportunity, Shane has the potential to become a top class Premier League keeper.

“He has great agility and is very brave and nothing phases him.

“I would have taken him to Oldham if I had stayed and I recommended him to my successor Dave Penney. But he had not seen him and that was fair enough.

“Shane wants it, but his nature is to do it in a quiet way.

“He is a great lad and if he gets the opportunity he will not be stopped.”

Supple begins pre-season training with the rest of his Ipswich team mates tomorrow (THUR) and he says that his confidence has not been dented by spending so much time on the Blues as understudy to Lewis Price, Neil Alexander, Stephen Bywater and Wright

“My confidence is the same as it was when I was in the team,” said Supple, who Royle's successor Jim Magilton handed the number one jersey ahead of Price in the summer of 2006.

“I feel as competitive as at any time and it was nice to show that I not lost anything when I played for Oldham. I thought I did well up there for Joe until I suffered a knee injury.

“Hopefully I can go in do the business at Ipswich this year.”

Supple says he has not wasted his time sitting on the bench for over a 100 games for Ipswich over the last three seasons.

“It can be a tad cold in the winter,” he quipped. “But I study how the keepers work and as far as Richard (Wright) is concerned he is a great bloke and keeper and has 10 years experience on me.”