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Given hails 'leader' Dunne

Shay Given

Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given believes fit again defender and stand-in skipper Richard Dunne will have a key role to play in the battle for Barclays Premier League survival.

Dunne made his presence felt after being sidelined for more than two months with a broken collarbone by helping Villa to clean sheet in Saturday's goalless draw at West Brom. It kept Alex McLeish's side three points above the bottom three ahead of next weekend's home game with Tottenham and the trip to Norwich on the final day of the campaign.

Given said: "It was amazing to have Richard Dunne back in the side. He had only trained a couple of times. For him to play was beyond the call of duty... He is a leader on the pitch and in the dressing room. Even just seeing him with the captain's armband on gave everyone a huge lift before the game."

He added: "We are delighted to have him back. It has been a long time since he played and his performance was immense. The headers he got out of the box were crucial and he was also a real leader on the pitch."

Given believes the crop of youngsters in the Villa side will also benefit from Dunne's return.

He said: "The young lads look up to him. We've had quite a few youngsters in the team over the last few months. They see a performance from Dunney like that and they know that is the standard they have got to strive for."

Given produced a stoppage-time save from Peter Odemwingie's volley to deny Albion victory.

He said: "We created the most chances and fact the the man of the match was (West Brom keeper) Ben Foster tells its own story. It was a big save by myself at the end. I didn't have anything to do for most of the game and that is great credit to Dunne and Cuellar in front of me.

"But at this level you've got to keep your concentration levels high and thankfully for me I did and managed to keep it out at the death."

Foster felt Albion were denied a fourth win in five games after Villa defender Alan Hutton's handball on the line from a Liam Ridgewell header went unspotted by referee Mark Clattenburg. He said: "I can't believe it wasn't a penalty. It was the most blatant penalty I've ever seen."