Lambert hoping Dunne can come to Villa's aid
Republic of Ireland international central defender Richard Dunne has been told by Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert to decide whether he can answer an SOS against Newcastle United tonight.
Such is Villa’s plight as they battle to avoid relegation that Lambert wants to throw in Dunne – even though he has not played since Ireland’s 2-0 defeat against Italy at the European Championships last June.
Dunne has had three operations since then to try and cure hip and groin problems and he has only been back in full training for two weeks.
But with Villa just a point above the relegation zone after taking two points from their last six matches and having conceded 27 goals in their last 10 league and cup games, Lambert needs the experience of Dunne at the centre of his defence.
“Dunney has been around the block and knows the game and exactly what it entails,” said Lambert.
“Obviously he would be invaluable to the side particularly with the ball coming into the penalty area and the desire he has to compete.
“He is also a really good talker and this is invaluable as well. But I will have to go by what Richard feels about the situation. We will have a chat but you have to remember that he has been out for well over half a year. That is a long, long time. Just to train and throw him in, it is difficult.
“When you have missed a few weeks it is difficult to throw someone into the side, let alone someone out half a year. But we will see how he feels after training. At this minute he is not feeling too bad.”
Lambert admits Villa have badly missed Dunne’s influence on the side.
He added: “He knows the game inside out and he has had a great career. But you cannot rush anyone who has been out for that length of time. Being out of the side for such a long time has been a nightmare for him with the operations and not getting to the bottom of the problem.”
Lambert has revealed that if Villa were in a safe league position he would not be considering calling up Dunne.
“You have to watch his wellbeing,” said Dunne. “There is no point in asking him to do something that he does not feel comfortable with or if he is still feeling the injury. That is unfair to himself.”
Dunne’s Republic of Ireland centre back partner Sean St Ledger is back training and on course to be available for the World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria in March.
Leicester City centre half St Ledger has been out of action due to a hamstring injury.