Dunne's Villa future hanging in balance
Richard Dunne is expected to receive further clarity on his Aston Villa future today with the club looking to fine the player in the region of four weeks wages for gross misconduct at a team bonding trip last week.
The Ireland star, in tandem with fellow defender James Collins, hurled abuse at coaching staff during a boozy session which spiralled out of control.
An apologetic Dunne expressed remorse for his actions last weekend, but his latest setback in a troubled season makes it likely that he will be looking for a new club this summer.
In the meantime, he faces being hit hard in the pocket. Under PFA rules, players can be fined a maximum of two weeks wages as a sanction, yet the club are pushing for a tougher punishment due to the seriousness of the offence.
Dunne is alleged to have also criticised young midfielder Fabian Delph after the group drank together and watched Spurs' Champions League with AC Milan on TV.
Manager Gerard Houllier and assistant Gary McAllister, with whom Dunne had a serious row in December, were not present as they were attending the game in question.
Dunne, who is on £55,000 a week, will escape the sack for his behaviour, but it's anticipated that Houllier will look to sell him in the summer.
The Tallaght man was frozen out of the Frenchman's plans over Christmas following his disagreement with McAllister. However, he was subsequently recalled and enjoyed a decent run in the team before sustaining the shoulder problem with which he is currently sidelined. Collins was also nursing an injury at the time of a bonding trip.
Ireland desperately need Dunne to be fit for Saturday week's Euro 2012 qualifier with Macedonia at home.
Giovanni Trapattoni said on Monday that he was optimistic, but he will have to be concerned about fielding the 31-year-old given his recent difficulties.
While his form before the latest setback was closer to his normal standard, his overall level of performance this season has been well below par and observers in the Midlands have suggested that the club are worried about his fitness and general lifestyle.
Nevertheless, he has performed reasonably well for Ireland in their qualifiers and is still vital to Trapattoni's team for his leadership skills, especially the positive effect he has on central defensive partner Sean St Ledger.
The concern for the Italian would be if Dunne arrived next week with other matters on his mind, so he will be hoping that the meeting with Villa authorities puts the latest saga to bed.
Houllier has already ruled the player out of Saturday's Premier League tie against Wolves.
Meanwhile, in better news for Trapattoni, goalkeeper Keiren Westwood is confident that he will be fit in time for the game.
With Westwood set to deputise for Shay Given, the alarm bells were ringing in the Irish camp when he was forced to limp out of Coventry's defeat by Bristol City last Saturday week.
After missing the game against Doncaster with hip trouble, he returned to figure in last Saturday's defeat by Hull, which ultimately cost Aidy Boothroyd his job as Coventry manager.
"It is just sore," he said. "It was too soon for me last Tuesday, so I explained to the manager that I could make it worse if he risked asking me to play.
"As hard as it is to sit out a game, I was using common sense really because with the games coming thick and fast I wanted to let it heal.
"Hopefully, I will get to play (against Macedonia). I always want to play for my country."