PL: Fitness first for Dunne

Football League chairman Greg Clarke says football must create a
more supportive environment for black players.

Clarke was speaking to Sky Sports News following the broadcast
from the Special Report team, which uncovered several incidents of
racist chanting at football matches.

The report was inspired by Marvin Sordell, the Bolton striker
who said he was called a “slave” by Millwall fans last year and is
one of the few footballers to speak out about his experiences.

And Clarke believes the reluctance of many black footballers to
report incidents of racism highlights a deeper problem within the
sport.

He said: “I was grateful to Sky for shedding some light on a
very dark area in football. Anybody who has been associated with
football for years knows that things are getting better but they
are nowhere near where they need to be.

“To have our players subject to vile and filthy abuse deserves
nothing better than the culprits being arrested and charged with
the full weight of the law.

“We obviously have to stamp out racism. No right-thinking person
could in any way condone the sort of terrible behaviour we saw on
your programme.

“But what chilled me even more was not the racism but the
reticence of black players to feel comfortable in reporting it.

“If we created an environment which doesn’t support black
players in confronting this issue then we’ve done something
terribly wrong.

“So we’ve got to wrap ourselves around our black players, give
them our support to be able to report such episodes and then deal
with such episodes extremely severely.

“I’ve been working with Herman Ouseley (chairman of the Kick It
Out campaign) and (PFA chief) Gordon Taylor behind the scenes,
meeting one-on-one with black players, senior pros, managers, who,
to be frank, don’t want to go on camera and don’t want to put their
head above the parapet but believe things need to be done.

“So we need to create a culture within football which rather
than make the person pointing out the problem the villain, that
they get the support they deserve to be able to point it out to us
so we can do something about it. We need to support the victims
here.

And when asked what steps the Football League would be taking to
stamp out racism, Clarke responded: “By making sure that we use
every tool in our armour.

“We will use CCTV, steward statements, players statements, to
hunt down every racist at every football ground and make sure they
never get into a football ground again, plus be charged by the
police.”

But Lambert admits Dunne, who will become a free agent this
summer, will “not need to prove himself” in terms of his ability
should a new contract eventually be on the agenda.

Dunne has undergone three groin operations since the end of last
season and has suffered another setback after returning to training
two weeks ago.

He has hardly played for 12 months after a shoulder injury
caused him to miss the final third of last season before returning
for the final two games.

Lambert confirmed the former Manchester City player will not
require further surgery on his groin but is unsure when the player
will be available.

He said: “I don’t know. He’s been having setbacks. We will have
to see what the surgeon says.

“We are still no further forward but he doesn’t need another
operation.

“He’s got to keep battling through it. He’s still a bit
sore.”

Wen asked if there was chance of Dunne earning a new contract,
Lambert said: “I think first and foremost we need to get the guy
back fit.

“That’s the big thing for me, to get Richard back fit as quickly
as we can.

“Richard Dunne will not need to prove himself. I know what he
can do.

“He doesn’t need to impress. He’s not 19 or 20 years old. The
main thing for me is that he’s going to be fit again.”