Houllier damns Dunne with faint praise

Paul Hyland

GERARD Houllier has damned disgruntled Richard Dunne with faint praise and shows no signs of ending his feud with the former Aston Villa skipper and Stephen Ireland.

Dunne was recalled for yesterday's six-goal thriller against Chelsea, notable for another fine performance from Irish prospect Ciaran Clarke (right), in an attempt to damp down speculation that Houllier has lost the dressing room and the backing of owner Randy Lerner.

However, Houllier's assessment of Dunne's form after the 3-3 draw was limp and shows signs of ongoing problems.

"I watched all the training sessions Richard was involved in. His commitment and his fitness were better," said Houllier.

Asked whether he felt he was under pressure after four months in the Villa hot seat, he said: "I have no regrets about coming here. It's tough but I enjoy it, particularly when you have that sort of game."

Houllier expressed disbelief at recent newspaper headlines and his explanation for the source will please neither Dunne nor Ireland.

"I've read so many things that have really stunned me and have nothing to do with the truth.

"Sometimes a player who is not playing calls his agent, who calls the press," he said.