Villa overhaul starts with Dunne exit
Paul Lambert will continue his plans to phase out the old guard he inherited at Aston Villa in the next 48 hours following the release of Richard Dunne.
Dunne is the first casualty of Lambert's move to restructure the club during the summer and further reduce the wage bill at Villa Park and could be followed by Shay Given, Darren Bent and Stephen Ireland.
Lambert has meetings scheduled over the next couple of days with the quartet and is expected to inform them they are all free to find new clubs and move on as he looks to continue his policy of bringing in young talent from lower divisions this summer.
"We’ve had to strip the squad right back and get it going. Randy has been fantastic with it and he understands what we are trying to do. We are trying to build a club," Lambert said.
"Any club will be busy and trying to do something but we have set a standard that we have got to do better. To do that you have to keep trying to build your squad and keep belief in your own philosophy."
Bent has two years remaining on his deal which is worth an estimated £65,000-a-week and has attracted some tentative interest from Fulham.
Given has three years remaining on his deal and Ireland 12 months on his. All three earn in excess of £3 million a year, but have barely played this season and Villa want to lower their wage bill significantly and make room for new contracts for the likes of Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann.
Alan Hutton, the Scotland international, is also due to return after a loan spell at Real Mallorca, with the Spanish club struggling to pay the £1 million fee to make the full-back’s move permanent.
Dunne now has to decide whether to extend his career after failing to play a single game for Villa during last season because of a complicated groin injury.
The 33-year-old was signed for £5 million by Martin O’Neill in 2009, but the club have told him they will not renew his £50,000-a-week contract when it expires next month.