Villa boss backs Cuellar

We can get results without Dunne, says McLeish

Carlos Cuellar: Will be asked to fill the void created by Richard Dunne's absence

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Alex McLeish hopes his new defensive pairing of Carlos Cuellar and James Collins can help Aston Villa overcome the loss of Richard Dunne.

Dunne fractured his collar bone in the defeat to Manchester City and Villa are now in danger of being sucked into the relegation battle, having slipped to 15th in the Premier League.

But the Villa boss believes Cuellar and Collins are capable of making light of Dunne's absence - starting with Saturday's trip to bottom club Wigan.

"We know Richard is a big loss," admitted McLeish. "He would be a big loss to any team.

"He's just been nominated in the Republic of Ireland player of the year awards. That's well-deserved. He's a stalwart defender.

"To lose someone of that experience when we could be doing with them at the moment is a blow.

Experience

"But I'd like to think the experience of Carlos and James can fill that void. They are two very experienced players.

"They know the position we are in. It's concertinaed at the moment in the league table and a couple of good victories would get us up there again.

"If those two can be a kind of rock for us in the coming weeks, there's no reason that can't happen."

Cuellar, 30, has been chiefly utilised at full-back in recent seasons but has considerable experience in the heart of the defence and McLeish is confident the Spaniard can be relied upon.

He added: "Carlos has great experience at centre-back, he's a real soldier and we will look to rely heavily on his experience.

"When you're sitting in the dug-out, you're looking for a group of players you can trust and Carlos fits the bill in that respect."

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