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Dunne set to make comeback

Richard Dunne will be handed the opportunity to end his year-long injury nightmare in the Republic of Ireland's fiendly with Georgia this Sunday.

Dunne, 33, is set to make his first appearance on a football pitch since last June at the Aviva Stadium, and Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni may utilise the Aston Villa defender in the following World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands next week.

Asked if Dunne would figure against the Georgians, the Italian said: "Yes, sure. I have already said probably he will play some time in the game.

"Whether it's better to start or better to play when later in the game, we will have to decide. We will speak with him, but sure he has the possibility to play."

Dunne has not managed a single appearance for either club or country since last summer's Euro 2012 finals because of a combination of groin and hip injuries, and has undergone three bouts of surgery in a bid to regain his fitness.

However, the former Manchester City man, who is out of contract at Villa Park at the end of next month, joined up with his international team-mates in London at the weekend and has stepped up his training in recent days to the point where Trapattoni is ready to grant his wish and throw him back into the fray.

Dunne was a spectator at Wembley last night as the Republic battled out a 1-1 friendly draw with England, and captain Robbie Keane revealed the centre-back's desperation to return after the final whistle.

Keane said: "I know he wants to. I have been rooming with him, so I know he is desperate to play.

"It's been a frustrating season for him. Obviously he hasn't played since the Euros, so I know how much it means to him.

"To come back and hopefully even play 20 minutes or something like that would certainly be good for his confidence, and to see where he is himself because it's been a tough year for him with his injury.

"It's not nice to be out, certainly for that long. I have been very lucky in my career never to be out for any more than four or five weeks, so I could never imagine what it would be like to be out for a year. I'd be pulling my hair out."

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