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No backwards glances from Irish lionheart

Richard Dunne has no regrets about his exit from Eastlands, writes Dion Fanning

Manchester City will win the title, their former captain Richard Dunne says, although he is not sure when. He believes it is inevitable and once it's done, the empire will grow.

Dunne left City in 2009, accusing the then executive chairman Garry Cook of "selling me behind my back".

Earlier this year, Cook was forced to resign from City after an email was released in which he mocked the cancer of the mother of then City player Nedum Onuoha. Cook had initially claimed his email had been hacked before admitting to "an error of judgement".

Dunne doesn't think City lost anything with Cook's departure. "The club is better off without him. They will progress quicker and go further without that man. I don't pay any attention to people like him anyway," he said.

Cook had previously talked of City's expansion plans and dismissed Dunne as a player not suited to their commercial goals. "Richard Dunne doesn't roll off the tongue in Beijing."

Dunne dismisses that now. "It was a journalist who told me a couple of weeks after he said it, what he said. But it never really mattered to me because people like him don't matter to me."

Tomorrow's game is too close to call but he believes that if City win, they will go on to win the title.

"It's inevitable that eventually they will win it. They are the biggest payers and once they start winning trophies they will be viewed as an acceptable choice for the top, top players to go for, in terms of their club selection."

Dunne's departure was seen as part of the change. "I don't think I could or should be there. I enjoyed my time there. It is different now. The club has changed from the top right the way through. They have signed better players and are looking upwards. It is part of football and time for people to move on.

"I can look back on my time and say I really enjoyed it. I have friends there and am pleased for them. I look back at my time and say it was great but I have enjoyed being at Villa just as much so I can't look back wishing I was there."

There is not much to enjoy for Villa at the moment. Dunne returned to the team yesterday for the game at West Brom, encouraging Villa fans and Ireland supporters before the summer. He has a couple of games to recover fitness and then Trapattoni will put them through a pre-season in May. "I'll be okay," he says.

Dunne was part of the Irish squad in 2002 and he expects no problems with the preparations this time. There was nothing wrong with them then either, he says. "What happened in Saipan was a one-player sort of thing and people think it was a shambles, but on the field it was actually really good and if we can repeat what we achieved there then we will be more than happy. It is something for everyone to enjoy this year. Let's hope we enjoy it."

Dunne has come to embody the spirit of the Irish squad but he also knows what is expected from a manager who expects all his players to understand what's required.

"What he does from Monday all the way through the week is what he knows is right and he trusts that one million per cent and he trusts us to carry that out," Dunne says of Trapattoni. "Come match day, we have a meeting in

the hotel before and when we get to the dressing room, he says just get on with it lads.

"At half-time, it's the same, maybe one or two small details but other than that, in general, it's 'this is what I've told you do, go ahead and do it'."

Trapattoni will be more confident if Dunne returns to full fitness. Dunne sees no problem in Ireland's draw -- "every team in that tournament could probably beat us so we might as well play the best".

But the squad has matured with Dunne maturing more than most. Ireland would have struggled to replace him in the summer and they would find it hard to find a better leader if he decided to retire after the tournament. He thinks Stephen Ireland will eventually end his international retirement but he hasn't talked to him about it.

For Dunne, there is no reason to go now or in the autumn but he looks forward to 2014 and wonders what will happen them.

"It is very hard to say what I will do. I want to stay on. I want to play. But I have to wait and see because I don't know myself.

"I have got a year left at Villa and it is very hard to look at Kevin Kilbane who tried his heart out for 18 months and then misses out. You want to try for Ireland as best you can but in 18 months' time you might not be playing for your club team and then you won't get picked for Ireland."

At the moment, that is something Dunne and Ireland don't need to worry about.

Sunday Indo Sport