Friday 23 March 2018

Dunne delighted by return to action

Richard Dunne, left, made his return from a groin problem in Ireland's win over Georgia
Richard Dunne, left, made his return from a groin problem in Ireland's win over Georgia

Richard Dunne set his sights on Friday night's World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands after ending his year-long injury nightmare.

The 33-year-old central defender played the last 25 minutes of Ireland's 4-0 friendly victory over Georgia at the Aviva Stadium, his first action for either club or country since the Euro 2012 finals defeat by Italy in June last year.

Manager Giovanni Trapattoni later revealed that Dunne, who underwent three bouts of surgery in a bid to solve a persistent groin problem, is in contention to start against the Faroes, and the Aston Villa man would be thrilled to oblige, saying: "That would be brilliant. Obviously it has been so long, I don't know - I might be stiff and sore in the morning."

He added: "But it's nice that he's involved me at all this week, so I am delighted with that and if I can get more games, it will be brilliant.

"It was great, I really enjoyed it. It was the ideal match to come back into as well, the way it panned out over the 90 minutes.

"It was just nice to get back involved, having a week's training and then to finish off with a game has been really good."

Dunne was introduced to rapturous applause as a 65th-minute replacement for Marc Wilson with Ireland leading Georgia, who had keeper Giorgi Loria sent off after 20 minutes, 2-0 courtesy of strikes from defender Richard Keogh and forward Simon Cox.

Robbie Keane, who had come on at the break to equal Shay Given's record caps haul of 125, helped himself to a double inside 10 minutes at the end of the game to cement a comfortable win in which Dunne was able to ease himself back in.

The defender said: "Ideally, you would try to play games behind closed doors and stuff like that, but as games go, I don't think it could have gone more perfectly than today.

"It was ideal. It was what I wanted, just the confidence to know that I can compete and more so, the week's training has been as hard as the game was today. It was important for me just to clear my mind of what has gone on in the last year, and I feel now that I can progress and play again for a couple of years."

Press Association

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