By Paul Brown
Shay Given knows he's faces a fight to keep hold of his No.1 spot, with Brad Guzan "pushing hard" for a place in the side.
But Given, who just retired from international football with Ireland, insists he's relishing the competition.
The 36-year-old is looking forward to the challenge of staying in the team, with "passionate" Paul Lambert watching on intently.
He said: "Brad is pushing hard for a place in the team. It's up to me hopefully to keep him out but he's a fantastic goalkeeper and the fans love him here as well and that comes from his performances.
"He's a top goalkeeper and it's important we've got that competition in all positions across the park and we definitely have that in the goalkeeping department.
"Of course you need a challenge and there's a new manager as well, so you've got to impress him and show him that you deserve to be in the team.
"The manager is a very passionate guy and he wants everybody to be on top of their game both in training and in games. There's a real buzz in training and real excitement around the place."
Like many claret and blue stars before him, Given impresses the levels of optimism around Villa Park and Bodymoor Heath as the team head into the 2012-13 campaign.
He added: "There's huge excitement and there's always huge excitement at the start of any season to be honest.
"We're looking forward to West Ham on Saturday, it's a huge game. There's a new manager involved, new staff and a few new players as well.
"We've played well pre season, we've played some good stuff, anybody who's come to see us, we've changed the way we play a little bit and it's probably a more attractive to watch and the fans will want to see us hopefully play that all season.
"Of course the most important thing is to get some results."
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