Ambitious Dunne eyes Villa legacy

Irish defender says victory against Blackburn could pave way for spell at top

Richard Dunne believes Carling Cup success for Aston Villa would mean manager Martin O'Neill being able to attract star quality players to the Midlands club. Villa are favourites to overcome Blackburn in the two-legged semi-final, with the first leg re-arranged for Ewood Park tomorrow evening.

Dunne, who could face his former club Manchester City in the final if they defeat Manchester United, feels that would encourage top-name performers to move to Villa Park.

Dunne, who will be competing in the first semi-final of his 14-year career, said: "The ambition of every footballer throughout their career is to win something. For the young lads here, the more they can win at a younger age, the more experience and the more hunger it will give them to win. If you get your first trophy, it will hopefully lead to more and breed confidence around the side and hopefully clubs will fear us a little bit more.

"But, if we achieve that, players who probably wouldn't want to come to Aston Villa previously will start looking at us as a successful side where the top players can come and win stuff."

The postponement of the first leg last Tuesday and Saturday's Premier League game at Wigan has allowed midfielder James Milner and full-back Luke Young to recover from foot and ankle injuries respectively.

The clash with Rovers will represent the first action for more than a fortnight for skipper Stiliyan Petrov, Brad Friedel, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Dunne, who were rested for the FA Cup tie between the clubs.

Dunne said: "Everyone wants to play every game but sometimes you just have to listen and the manager always knows best. To be honest, I am feeling the benefit of it [a break]. You don't feel tired at the time but, having previously had so many games in a short period does take its toll."

Meanwhile, O'Neill is not looking to offload left-back Nicky Shorey, who is on loan at Nottingham Forest. Shorey started the first five games but lost his place after the arrival of Stephen Warnock from Blackburn.

But O'Neill feels the former England player has a role to play at Villa Park, especially if he improves the defensive side of his game. O'Neill said: "If there was an offer, I would sit down with Nicky and his agent to discuss it but I am not actively seeking [to sell him]. Nicky thought when Stephen Warnock arrived that his chances would be limited at the time. But he is capable of fighting back. I think going forward he has done very well at Forest and, if he tightens up his game defensively, he has loads to offer – and I think he has tried to do that."

Villa full-back Luke Young was an unused substitute for Tottenham when they overcame Leicester – then managed by O'Neill – in the 1999 final. But he is not getting carried away with the prospect of playing at Wembley on February 28.

Young said: "We're making good progress as a club. We're heading in the right direction and this would be another step on the ladder. To get to a final would be tremendous but we're certainly not looking too far forward. We've got a big job to do – starting with the first leg away at Ewood Park.

"The first leg dominates our thoughts at the moment. We've got to go out there and start well. We can't concede early. If we could go there and pick up a draw, with a goal too, that would be nice. It's always important to score a goal and then bring them back to Villa Park and finish the job. But it's going to be very hard."

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