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Gunnar Nielsen made his Manchester City debut against Arsenal yesterday.
Gunnar Nielsen made his Manchester City debut against Arsenal yesterday.

Nielsen confident he will be a safe replacement for Given

Stand-in goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen has reassured Manchester City fans he will not crumble under the pressure heading into their final three matches.

Goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen has reassured Manchester City fans he will not crumble under the pressure. The little-known Faroe Islands international is likely to play in City's final three games of the season, and a key role in their fight for fourth place in the English Premier League, after first choice keeper Shay Given was ruled out for the remainder of the campaign. The Irishman suffered a dislocated shoulder in the goalless draw at Arsenal yesterday, leaving Nielsen to come on for his debut at the Emirates. And with regular No 2 Stuart Taylor recovering from knee surgery and no recall clause in the deal which took Joe Hart on a season-long loan to Birmingham, Nielsen is City's only option in goal.

The 23-year-old, who was brought to England from Danish club Frem by Blackburn, joined City two years ago, but his only previous experience of first-team football in England came last year on loan at non-league Wrexham. And he revealed being thrust into the limelight against Arsenal had created a stir back in his home country. "The Faroe Islands is only a small country, 50,000 people, and I think they will be very proud. They know I've been trying for years," Nielsen, who has just two caps to his name, said on City's official website. "It was an unbelievable feeling afterwards, but when I did come on it was just so intense ? it was a high pressure game and I had to stay focused. I like to think I'm calm under pressure.

"But I've not played too many games, especially at this level ? hey, I've just started at the top, the rest will be easy. "I'm Gunnar, they're nicknamed the Gunners, so maybe it was fate. "But Shay looked in bad pain. He's a really top guy, I've learned so much from him and he's been brilliant with me all season. I'm gutted for him." Nielsen revealed he would be looking to ensure Given is missed as little as possible. "Shay has been so consistent for us ? he's calm and experienced, and I want to be like that," he added. "When I'm out on the pitch I do like to shout at the guys ? talking to the other players helps me a lot.

"Being No 2 is difficult. I've been training hard with our coach Massimo. If it's serious with Shay then it's probably going to be a couple of games for me. "If I play against Aston Villa I'll be up against Brad Friedel, who was the main man when I was at Blackburn Rovers. He's a top man ? I'd be playing against one of my heroes. "But I don't know whether my family and friends would be able to come over and watch. That might all depend on the ash cloud ? we're a bit close to Iceland." * PA Sport

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