Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Dunne could make Ireland return

Richard Dunne has not played since June last year

Richard Dunne could put himself in line for a shock World Cup recall after returning to the Ireland fold.

The 33-year-old Aston Villa defender has not played all season because of a persistent groin injury which required three rounds of surgery, but he has joined up with the Ireland squad ahead of their friendly against England at Wembley on Wednesday.

Dunne, who is out of contract at the end of next month, will not figure against Roy Hodgson's men despite training under the watchful eye of physio Ciaran Murray at Watford's London Colney headquarters this evening as his team-mates went through their paces.

However, he could play some part against Georgia in Dublin next Sunday if he proves his fitness, and manager Giovanni Trapattoni has admitted there is an outside chance he could line up against the Faroe Islands at the Aviva Stadium five days later.

Trapattoni said: "Now is England and Georgia; the Faroes is a qualifier. He would have to be 100 per cent fit. Don't forget, this injury has been 10 months, one year. It was a bad injury and then he had surgery. Only if he was very, very okay, 100 per cent. But there are two or three questions: he is without a club; he is many months without a game; and it's a qualifier. But for us, he will be again important in the future."

Dunne has not kicked a ball in anger since Ireland's final Euro 2012 finals clash with Italy in June last year and was conspicuous by his absence as Villa slid into Barclays Premier League relegation trouble before rallying to drag themselves clear.

He has been missed by Ireland too with Trapattoni having to do without his most experienced defender for the duration of the Group C campaign to date, which has featured a 6-1 home defeat by Germany and a 2-2 draw with Austria in Dublin courtesy of a last-gasp equaliser for the visitors.

However, the veteran Italian has vowed to take no risks with a man he believes still has a key role to play for his country. Trapattoni said: "I spoke with him and I clarified his position, his position with the club and his position for us. We need Richard in the future.

"But he has no club at this moment. I said, 'Richard, we will help you because you deserve respect, but you have no team at this moment and you must be careful because an injury could be for you very, very dangerous'.

"We have more respect for him. I said we will go step by step. We have these two opportunities and we can assess his condition after the next two or three days. Sure, I want to help him. He will not start the game, but during the game depending on the score, we could give him an opportunity to play with us."

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