Given: Petrov courage inspiring Villa

Shay Given admits Aston Villa's players have taken inspiration from club skipper Stiliyan Petrov, who is battling against acute leukaemia.

Football News: Stiliyan Petrov.

Goalkeeper Given hopes the Bulgarian will be at Wembley for the Capital One Cup final should Villa overcome Bradford in the two-legged semi-final.

Petrov is undergoing regular courses of treatment for the illness but is still a regular visitor to the training ground and was in the dressing room before Saturday's FA Cup tie with Ipswich.

Given, who helped Villa to a 2-1 success, said: "Stiliyan was in before the game. He was in at the training ground as well on New Year's Eve before our game (at Swansea).

"It was fantastic to see him and he is a real fighter and a great guy. He is still fighting hard with all the treatment he is getting. We are all behind him.

"We know we are in a relegation fight in the Premier League but to see the fight Stan is coming under and showing is really inspirational."

Given added: "He is still a joker and still has a laugh with the lads and great credit to him.

"Coming in the dressing room before the game was fantastic and gives everyone a huge lift. He comes in as if nothing is the matter.

"It's great to see he has still got his sense of humour. It puts everything in perspective and it gives everyone a huge lift."

Given is taking nothing for granted as regards the semi-final tie with Bradford but would dearly love to see Petrov at Wembley should Villa overcome Phil Parkinson's side.

He said: "Would I like to see Petrov at Wembley? I hope so. It is down the line and we don't want to get ahead of ourselves.

"We know we've got a difficult two-legged tie to get through - but it would be great for Stan.

"Would he lead Villa out at Wembley? I don't know. It would be up to the manager and Stan is still going through some difficult treatments.

"One day he is up, one he is down, so it would depend on Stan that but the lads would love it if he could be there."

Villa manager Paul Lambert hailed the contribution of fit again striker Darren Bent against the Tractor Boys.

Bent has endured a frustrating season because of injuries and losing his place to Christian Benteke.

But he showed his finishing instincts with a trademark equaliser against Ipswich to put himself in contention to be involved against the Bantams in Tuesday's first leg at Valley Parade.

Lambert said: "Darren is a natural finisher. Everyone knows that. People all through Britain know what kind of striker he is.

"But Christian Benteke has played unbelievable football for us and, the system we have been playing, means we have only been playing one up front at some times.

"But you have to give Darren credit for the way he performed."



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