Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dunne Set for Biggest Game; Villa Star on Verge of Realising His Wembley Dream

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dunne Set for Biggest Game; Villa Star on Verge of Realising His Wembley Dream

Article excerpt

ASTON Villa defender Richard Dunne admits tonight's Carling Cup semi-final first leg against Blackburn at Ewood Park is the biggest club game of his career, writes JOHN CURTIS.

The Republic of Ireland player distinguished himself for nearly a decade at Manchester City and before that played for Everton, but he has never progressed past the last eight of any major competition.

The 30-year-old said: "I've been to a few quarter-finals, but every time I thought we've got a chance of getting to Wembley, we have been knocked out.

"There were games where we were expected to win when we were drawn at home but it never happened for whatever reason.

"I was a YTS lad with Everton when they won the FA Cup in 1995. That was a good occasion at Wembley but it seems a million miles away now.

"I think this is the biggest club game of my career. We're getting close to having a chance of getting a trophy and it will be good to look back when I've retired and be able to say that I've won a medal and played at Wembley.

"But, because of my record, I don't even want to think about the possibility of a final. I know how difficult these two games are going to be.

"The opportunity is there but we have to make sure we're 100% right for the two games and that we are still in contention going into the second leg."

Trophy success would also guarantee Villa a place in Europe, although their main target is a Champions League spot via the Premier League.

But Dunne added: "No one has mentioned the fact that winning this trophy would get us into Europe.

"The main thing is it is a chance to get a trophy under our belts, although there's still much work to be done."

Villa overcame Blackburn 3-1 in the FA Cup third round on Saturday, but Dunne believes that will have little impact on tonight's game.

The former Manchester City defender said: "There will be a lot of changes on both sides probably from Saturday and a different style of football. …

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