ASTON VILLA boss Paul Lambert says he's determined to help Richard Dunne regain fitness after a disastrous season for the Ireland international.
Dunne, who has been out of action since June, is currently being treated by a specialist in the US in a bid to cure his groin injury, with Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni still hoping that the Tallaght native will be back in time for next month's World Cup double header against Sweden and Austria.
There have been concerns about Dunne's future as he's out of contract with Villa at the end of this season, but Lambert says he has an "open mind" about the possibility of a new deal.
"First and foremost, the main thing is to get the guy back to fitness. That is the big thing for me. There is nothing in my mind other than getting that lad fit," said Lambert.
"I know what the guy can do. It is not as if he is 19 or 20 years old and has to impress. I have an open mind but the main thing for me is that he is going to be fit again.
"We will have to wait and see what the surgeon has said about the injury. I am pretty sure that he will not require another operation.
"The advice that Richard has been given is that he will just have to battle through the problem. I will have a rough idea after what the surgeon has been saying to Richard.
"The surgeon expected this to happen and the advice was to go back and see him again if it did."