City deserved criticism, says Dunne

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Richard Dunne, the Manchester City captain, has admitted that his team-mates deserved the abuse heaped on them by their own fans at Wigan Athletic on Saturday.

Chants of "You're not fit to wear the shirt" rang out from the visitors' end as City slumped to a 4-0 defeat at the JJB Stadium.

Even the City chairman, John Wardle, felt compelled to label the performance "an embarrassment", warning any repeat would not be tolerated in the future.

As captain, Dunne felt the pain of defeat more than most, particularly after his third-minute own goal. The Republic of Ireland international accepts that, after such a display, the players are vulnerable to any criticism they receive.

"The fans are so loyal and behind us that when they do turn on the players, it is even more noticeable and hits us quite hard," Dunne said.

"Having said that, it is what we should expect and what we deserve.

"We didn't perform. It was a terrible start and we never realistically looked like getting back into the game.

"I was angry, everyone in the dressing-room was angry with themselves because, on the day, no one performed. We have to look at ourselves and admit it was not good enough."

However, there is some hope for City ahead of Monday's televised game against Middlesbrough. After trying to pick his way through a long injury list for most of the campaign, the manager, Stuart Pearce, may suddenly have a few options.

As many as five of his injured players could be available to face Middlesbrough, with Ben Thatcher also available now the former Wales international has completed his eight-match suspension.

"We are hoping as many as possible will return to training by the end of the week, including Hatem Trabelsi, Stephen Ireland, Sylvain Distin, Claudio Reyna and, probably, DaMarcus Beasley," confirmed Pearce.

However, Middlesbrough were probably not Pearce's first choice of opponents to face after the defeat at Wigan. City's record against them is woeful, their last victory against the Teessiders coming in 1997.