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Paul Lambert will be without defender Richard Dunne until the new year, after the Ireland international suffered another injury setback

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has admitted that Richard Dunne is no closer to returning to action, having undergone two more rounds of tests on his groin injury.

Dunne has not played for Lambert yet this season, having been out of action since playing for Ireland during Euro 2012. The veteran defender's contract expires this season, and his injury situation has left Lambert without a key defender. "Richard went for a test on Saturday and went for another one on Thursday," the Villa boss said on Friday. "We are now crossing out what we think it might be. It’s just really, really frustrating.

"We are unsure what it is. But it is an on-going problem. It is in the groin area and I think this is what we have to nail down and put to bed one way or another to get to the bottom of the problem.

"It’s frustrating for Richard. I spoke to him and he is concerned.  He has done bits and pieces of training by himself and with the physios but even that is beginning to hurt him. At the present time we have no idea when he will be available to play again. I would say he is out to the new year, the way it is going at the moment."

Dunne's injury has allowed fellow Irishman Ciaran Clark to cement his place in the Villa starting eleven, and the Tallaght defender may find it difficult to dislodge either Clark or club captain Ron Vlaar when he returns to fitness.

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