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Friday, October 6, 2000
Blue jokes not funny for Dunne
By Ken Lawrence

Richard Dunne will seek clear-the-air talks with Everton manager Walter Smith when he returns to Goodison next week.

Richard Dunne
Dunne: Leaving the blues behind
Dunne and club-mate Michael Ball were dropped from last Saturday's 3-0 home defeat by Ipswich Town after Smith accused them of laughing on the team bus on the way home from their Worthington Cup humiliation at Bristol Rovers three days earlier.

But Dunne, speaking for the first time on the subject before the Republic of Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Portugal in Lisbon on Saturday, protested his innocence and declared his love for the Merseyside club.

The defender said: 'I wasn't one of those who laughed. I know who did but I wouldn't tell tales.

'I can understand that the manager would be upset by an incident like that but I want to see him to assure him that my heart remains at Everton.'

Dunne and Ball were in hot water earlier this year after failing to show up for training on New Year's Day and ever since, the Irishman's situation at Everton has been uneasy.

Wimbledon recently dropped a bid to sign him but Celtic are reportedly interested in acquiring the Dubliner. Dunne was even said to have issued a not-so-subtle plea to tempt Celtic boss Martin O'Neill last weekend, a matter Smith is eager to get to the bottom of. On Friday, however, Dunne insisted that he does not want to move.

'In a perfect world I would want to stay at Goodison and I want to make sure the manager knows that,' said Dunne.

'I would like to have had a talk with him on Monday but he had the day off, then I had to join my Irish team-mates in Dublin before heading to Portugal.

'But it's important I see him as soon as possible.

'If he decides the best thing for the club is to sell me, then I have no option but to accept it. Yet, I am hoping to convince him that I should have a future at the club.'

Inter Milan's Robbie Keane is another who fears for his future following this week's dismissal of coach Marcello Lippi - and the strain is showing.

Less than a month ago the Republic striker thought he had it made in Serie A having been hailed by the Inter supporters as their new hero and he celebrated by scoring a goal in his country's 2-2 draw with Holland in a World Cup qualifying tie.

Now, after Lippi's sacking, the 20-year-old bears the look of a haunted man, worried that the coach's exit may lead to his own departure.

Keane arrived in Portugal having heard nothing from Inter president Massimo Moratti, the man who sanctioned his £12million move from Coventry.

His anxiety was only too evident as he curtly tried to deflect attention from the situation. When asked if he wanted to stay in Serie A, he retorted: 'What do you think? Of course I want to stay but I don't know what's happening.'

Keane was told by journal-ists last Tuesday that Lippi had gone. He was not contacted by Inter.

Initially stunned by the news, Keane had recovered his composure last night but still looked worried as he said: 'I just want to concentrate on the match with Portugal. The game is a huge challenge.'

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (4-4-2): Kelly (Blackburn); Carr (Tottenham), Dunne (Everton), Breen (Coventry), Harte (Leeds); McAteer (Blackburn), Roy Keane (Man United), Kinsella (Charlton), Kilbane (Sunderland); Robbie Keane (Inter Milan), Quinn (Sunderland). TV times: Channel 5, 8.50pm live.


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