Dunne hoping for happy spell

BY foxsports • November 20, 2011

Defender Dunne is on cloud nine after helping his country reach the Euro 2012 finals via their play-off success against Estonia. But the former Manchester City player wants to transform that success to club level. Alex McLeish's side have enjoyed a reasonable start to the campaign but now have to face Spurs, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea before the new year. Dunne said: "I think it's a great achievement what Ireland have managed and we're delighted about what we've done during the week - but that can't be the end of it. "There are some big games coming up for Villa and it's going to be important for us to be on top form so we can pick up points in December. "The Tottenham game starts a run of games that are formidable on paper." Dunne can see encouraging signs under McLeish since he replaced Gerard Houllier during the summer. He said: "We would like to have won a few more home games and, with our performances, we've deserved to achieve that. "But we've made a very decent start and I think, with the manager coming in, the main aim was just to make us more solid. "I think we've got that now, where we're a very solid side and we're difficult to beat. "If you can do that then the rest, I'm sure, will come and I'm sure there's a lot of games we'll do well in." Dunne, however, recognises that Tottenham will be difficult opposition especially in front of their own fans. He said: "Over the past several seasons they have been really pushing on the door to the top four, as we have been. "They're a team that, at home, will be very powerful, providing a challenge that you then have to rise to. "But it's always good to go and test yourself against the best players." McLeish experienced mixed fortunes at White Hart Lane, winning 3-2 there in his first game in charge with Birmingham but then being relegated via the final game of last season. McLeish said: "We played a great game there at the end of last season and circumstances in previous games cost us very badly. "Guys like Nikola Zigic and Obafemi Martins never kicked another ball after the Carling Cup final because of injury. "I've got good memories at White Hart Lane as well - my first game as Birmingham manager was a 3-2 win there - but that final game of last season rankles as one of the worst of my career." Villa will return to action after a 17-day break which has enabled skipper Stiliyan Petrov to recover from a hamstring setback. McLeish is also hoping striker Gabriel Agbonlahor has recovered from a similar injury which saw him withdraw from the England squad last week. He said: "This break has been pretty long as we are not playing until Monday evening and it seems like we have been in a mini close season. "But it also gave a chance for one or two players to get much needed rest and off the training field in terms of one or two little niggles they had."