Republic of Ireland defender Richard Dunne has returned to training with Aston Villa, but club manager Paul Lambert says he does not want to rush him back into the first team despite Villa's poor run of form.
Dunne has not played for Aston Villa this season since featuring for Ireland at Euro 2012, having been sidelined with hip and groin injuries since last summer. Despite the defender's return to training, Lambert will not risk the 33-year-old Dubliner against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. "That won’t happen," Lambert told the club's official website. "He has not done very much for the last half year or so. But the good thing for us is that he is back training with group. That is a big bonus for us. But the length of time he’s been out, it’s been a long time. You can’t rush things."
Lambert feels that Dunne's experience has been greatly missed at the back for Villa, who have also been without fellow central defender Ron Vlaar in recent weeks. "Richard has been a good centre half throughout his career," Lambert said. "It’s just been unfortunate for us and for him that he’s been injured for such a long time."
Fellow Ireland internationals Keith Fahey and Stephen Hunt are also back in training with their clubs. Fahey has returned to Birmingham City following a spell of compassionate leave, while Wolverhampton Wanderers winger Hunt has done some light training ahead of his return to full training on Monday.
Meanwhile, Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni will be at Pride Park on Saturday afternoon to watch Derby County take on Nottingham Forest, as he looks to Richard Keogh for defensive cover for February's friendly international with Poland.