McLeish praises defensive duo
Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has hailed the importance of defenders James Collins and Richard Dunne to his team.
Last Updated: 19/09/11 8:06pm
Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has hailed the importance of defenders James Collins and Richard Dunne to his team as they prepare to take on Bolton Wanderers in the Carling Cup.
The Villans host Bolton at Villa Park in the third round of the competition on Tuesday evening and are boosted by the return to full form of Collins and Dunne, who have been the mainstays in their unbeaten start to the 2011/12 season.
McLeish is delighted to have his main centre-backs on song and insists that he always had faith in the duo, who had a public fall-out with former Villa boss Gerard Houllier last season.
"These are great players here," enthused McLeish. "People were saying I was probably going to go back to Birmingham and sign Scott Dann and Roger Johnson.
"But, to be honest, central defence was one position that wasn't a priority. We also have young Ciaran Clark here to back them (Collins and Dunne) up and he looks like he's going to be a top player also.
"I have seen a lot of them. I have seen Richard over the years and Peter Grant (assistant manager) knows James really well (from working together at West Ham).
"We felt that, while we were looking to strengthen the squad, it certainly wasn't going to be that position and the pair have been excellent."
Dunne is glad to see himself and Villa return to their form of two years ago under Martin O'Neill.
"We didn't feel what we were doing in training was beneficial to our game.," explained the 31-year-old. "Performances on Saturday reflect what you do during the week.
"We never really got going until the last few weeks of the season. It wasn't enjoyable but we finished in the end in the top half and didn't disgrace ourselves.
"But now things have changed again, it's a more British-style training regime and we're going into games with fight inside us.
"I think all of us would say we weren't at our best last season but everyone came back with a determination to put it right.
"We're back to where we were a couple of years ago. We're unbeaten and hard to beat at the moment and would like a good cup run."