Given hails Dunne form

Aston Villa defenders are back to their best form this season

Given: Enjoying playing behind such a strong defensive line-up

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Shay Given believes his Aston Villa team-mate Richard Dunne is back to his imperious best this season.

Dunne struggled to replicate the form last term that had seen him named Manchester City's Player of the Year four times.

Seemingly imbued by the arrival of Alex McLeish, the Republic of Ireland defender has resumed his usual excellent form for both club and country.

Man mountain

"He is looking as good as ever. He has been a man mountain, but I have said that for a number of years," said Given.

"He's a dominant figure at the back and he's started the season so, so strongly - I'm sure he'll have a great campaign."

"He's a dominant figure at the back and he's started the season so, so strongly - I'm sure he'll have a great campaign."

Shay Given

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Indeed, Dunne is just one half of a defensive axis with James Collins, who combine to make one of the most robust partnerships in the league.

Playing behind these two means the former Newcastle keeper is often reduced to nothing more than a bystander, and he was keen to highlight the role of Collins this term too.

Mates

"It's great to have James Collins here too - the pair of them are close off the pitch as mates and I think that shows on the pitch," said Given.

"It's a good thing to have, they go in on matchday and chuck their heads where others might not, that's a fantastic trait to have.

"There's no doubt that Dunne looks like a completely different player this season. Whatever the reasons, they have probably been done to death now, but we are certainly reaping the rewards at the moment."