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Saturday 16 December 2017

Seamus will get there but there is still a long, lonely road ahead, warns Dunne

Richard Dunne shows off the FAI Junior Cup Picture: Sportsfile
Richard Dunne shows off the FAI Junior Cup Picture: Sportsfile

Having gone 15 months without playing a game at club level due to a shoulder injury, Richard Dunne knows what it's like to be in pain and on the outside looking in.

And while he is confident that Seamus Coleman will make a full recovery from the broken leg which has sidelined the current Ireland captain, Dunne has warned Coleman that it's a long, lonely road ahead.

Dunne missed the entire 2012/13 season, playing just once (for Ireland in an end-of-season game) that term so he knows what Coleman is going through.

"It is hard and you do feel it's never going to end, you have to be positive," says Dunne.

"You just get fed up, really. Since you were seven or eight years old, you've always been involved in team sports, and doing team activities and all that stuff and having comfort in groups.

"So to just go in every day and be in with the physio, there is no kicking of the ball, there is no enjoyment, it's all the dirty side of it: all the gym work, the running, everything, it's very difficult.

"As much as you think 'I'll do this step and it's onto the next step', every step is six weeks and it feels like six months the whole time.

Drags

"It drags on the whole time. It's disheartening. I don't think I went to one match when I was injured because missing training was bad enough but having to go and watch matches was too difficult.

"Seamus might be different, he might want to be involved in the games," added Dunne, who feels that Everton's decision yesterday to award Coleman a long-term deal will boost the Donegal man's spirits.

"The fact that they have given him a new contract shows what a good club Everton are.

"I know from being there that they look after people well, I am sure he will be thrilled to get his new contract but to know that they have the belief that he is going to make it back is a big thing for him," added Dunne.

The Tallaght man is enjoying his life of retirement in France, away from football and he jokes that his school-going kids are already fluent in French while Dunne flits between competency and a struggle.

Former Ireland team-mates Damien Duff, Stephen McPhail, Mark Kinsella and Keith Andrews, among others, are working away in coaching with League of Ireland sides and occasionally the Ireland underage teams but Dunne is happy with his exile en France.

"I am still enjoying it, in the future I might start to think about taking my coaching badges but it's not a priority yet, I just enjoy what I am doing, I come back home every now and again and see some matches," he says.

But Dunne keeps a close eye on matters in the Premier League and discounts the theory that the art of defending is dead.

"It's excuses, really, because if you look at Juventus the other night they proved it's still an art form and there is certainly room for good defenders and defensive teamwork," says the ex-Everton man.

"The Premier League has sort of changed for the benefit of the supporters, they've gone more attacking and tried to win games and it's made defenders come up with excuses. There is certainly a place for defensive players.

Conceded

"You saw this year Chelsea went on a run when they conceded something like one or two goals in 12 or 13 games and suddenly shot so far ahead in the league.

"You have seen it with Juventus, who have been excellent purely by not conceding goals.

"[Alex] Ferguson always said you build your best team from your defence and regardless how much attacking that we have seen from Man City, their failing has been not being secure enough at the back. That's where a few teams have to strengthen next season."

Dunne, who left Manchester City in 2009, feels that club's project is still a work in progress and while he has faith in Pep Guardiola, Dunne accepts that a top-four finish is a must.

"For me they have improved this year and the football is a lot better but the season will still be deemed a massive failure if they don't get into the Champions League," he says.

"Because of his track record, he [Guardiola] has always won trophies in his first season but it's very difficult in England, the leagues that he has been in before don't have the same competition as you have in England, where maybe six teams had a chance of getting into the top four this year.

"It has to be taken slowly, it was an ageing team that he took over, there were quite a few positions that needed replacing and he has done it slowly but he is still maybe four or five players short of where he wants to be.

"Even in terms of the squad, when you watched the semi-final against Arsenal there was a difference between the two benches.

"Success on the European stage is huge for the top players, they all want to be involved in the Champions League and playing at the semi-final stages, and City have never had that background.

"Man United are such a big draw around the world and even without European football the top players will want to go there. It will take time with City."

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