Aston Villa assistant manager Gary McAllister has hailed the positive response of Richard Dunne following their training-ground altercation and the defender being axed from the team.
McAllister insists Dunne has a key role to play in Villa’s future after the Republic of Ireland international was recalled for Sunday’s 3-3 draw at Chelsea.
Dunne attracted plenty of attention after being involved in what McAllister calls an “incident” at Villa’s Bodymoor Heath complex.
Then the former Manchester City player was left out of the side after a dip in form coincided with Villa leaking too many goals as they slid towards the relegation zone.
But McAllister is full of praise for the way Dunne applied himself before forcing his way back into the starting line-up ahead of tomorrow’s home clash with Sunderland.
McAllister said: “We are all desperate for the club to move forward. That is very clear. There has been a lot of change.
“This group of players have had three managers this season. They started with Martin O’Neill in pre-season, then Kevin MacDonald and then Gerard Houllier came.
“There has been a lot of change, loads of different ideas, training schedules, training times etc. The players have been asked to change.
“But, as far as the incident with Dunny and myself, I don’t have a problem with ’Dunny’. It is something that happens in every training ground, every day of the week.
“I’ve had it my entire life as a footballer and as a young manager and now as an assistant manager. I’m not going to start talking about things that happen in the workplace.
“But Richard Dunne and I are perfectly fine and all the players, the staff, want to move forward and get results.”
As regards Dunne’s response to being dropped, McAllister said: “He has done exactly what we thought he would do.
“He was left out of the team, we were conceding goals and we had to make change. He has done what every top professional would do. He has responded. He came back into the team and he is a big player for this club and he will continue to be a big player. We need everybody.
“It was not a personal thing when he was left out. It was performance-related. We were conceding goals and losing games and we felt we had to make some changes.”
McAllister also stressed that out-of-favour midfielder Stephen Ireland and striker John Carew could also have futures at Villa.
He said: “Is there a way back for Ireland and Carew? Absolutely. We are very much about people coming in and performing in training.
“We want people to come in here and be competitive during the week. They’ve got to train like winners as well.”
McAllister stressed the need for Houllier to be given time to stamp his mark on Villa.
But he believes Villa already have an abundance of quality.
He said: “The manager has got to be given time. Everyone needs a bit of time. He needs to bring his own people in but, I’ve got to say, there is not a great deal that needs to be added to this club.
“It is a few little tickles here and there. There are a lot of quality players here. We just feel in certain positions we might need a bit more experience and in other positions we might need a bit more quality.
“But it doesn’t need a great deal. It just needs a little bit of tinkering.”