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Dunne's focus on winning

RICHARD Dunne believes that a footballer should judge his career on silverware rather than money.

Aston Villa visit Blackburn Rovers this evening in the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final, the first time Dunne has reached this stage of any competition, and the former Manchester City defender recognises that he is closing in on a priceless opportunity.

Dunne, 30, could have sat on a fat contract at City, who face Manchester United in the other semi-final tomorrow but opted to join Villa for £5m in September.

"For every footballer, the aim, when they look back on their career, is to have a medal to show for it," Dunne said. "Every footballer in the Premier League will more or less finish his career having enough money. Whether they're fulfilled is different. For players to feel fulfilled, you have to have actual silverware to look back on. That's where your memories are.

"All of us go into this game knowing that we're close to having that opportunity. But the main thing is to focus on the semi-final and not to get carried away with the lure of Wembley."

Dunne is set to be recalled with Luke Young, Stiliyan Petrov, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Emile Heskey and, if his bruised foot permits, James Milner after Martin O'Neill, the Villa manager, rested them for Saturday's 3-1 defeat of Blackburn in the FA Cup third round.

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