O'Neill hails Dunne display

Boss pleased with Irishman's response

Dunne: Bounced back

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Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has praised Richard Dunne for the "tremendous application" shown by the defender in the aftermath of the defender's World Cup heartbreak.

Dunne was involved in the Republic of Ireland side that was cruelly beaten by France in a qualifying play-off match that will famously be remembered for Thierry Henry's handball.

The 30-year-old was visibly upset by the defeat and he sat inconsolably next to the French striker at the final whistle.

France progressed to the finals in South Africa as a result of the controversial win, leaving Ireland to contemplate missing out on a second successive World Cup.

O'Neill was prepared to let Dunne sit out of Villa's clash against Burnley, fearing the big stopper might not be fully focused on the match.

Strength

But the former Man City man showed great mental strength to play in four consecutive matches.

Villa have shown good form of late and Dunne has been part of a side that has seen the Midlands club chase down a Champions League spot and reach the semi-finals of the Carling Cup.

And the Villa boss praised the response of the defender ahead of his side's clash with in-form Hull City.

"It must be very difficult for Richard to forget what happened," O'Neill explained. "There must be moments when he must think what could have been.

"That will particularly hit him next summer when he is sitting around and thinking 'that could have been me involved in South Africa'.

"But in terms of his application and professionalism, he has been excellent since coming back to us. In fact he has been excellent since he came here and has slotted in so well at the back."

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