Dunne and Given heading to Euro 2012, and Barry Bannan’s back, baby

The Euro 2012 play-offs are over and we now know all 16 teams who will be competing in Poland and Ukraine next summer. Barring any injury issues, there will definitely be some Villa interest as the Irish saw out their considerable advantage from the first leg against Estonia to book their place in the finals with a 1-1 draw in Dublin.

Just try to stop Shay Given and Richard Dunne getting on that plane.

The draw for the groups will take place

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Richard Dunne and Enda Stevens win Player of the Year awards in Ireland

I mentioned last week that future Villan Enda Stevens had been nominated for the 2011 PFAI Player of the Year Award and I’m pleased to let you know that he was named the winner in Dublin last night. Not only that, but Richard Dunne also scooped the Irish Overseas Player of the Year.

Dunne and Shay Given are currently with the Irish national side midway through their two-legged play-off tie against Estonia for a place in Euro 2012. Estonia head to

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Richard Dunne: I would have left Villa had Houllier stayed

Richard Dunne has confirmed what we already knew; he was heading for the exit door under Gerard Houllier. He’s yet another player to lift the lid on a testing atmosphere under the Frenchman last season.

Speaking to ESPNsoccernet ahead of Ireland’s vital Euro 2012 play-off match against Estonia the veteran defender said:

Last season was very difficult for me as I was not enjoying coming to work every day at Villa and there were some issues with the Ireland team as well.


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Getting back to business: A brief Euro 2012 round up from Villa’s perspective

The qualification for Euro 2012 is almost done. England will be in Poland and/or Ukraine next summer after comfortably finishing top of Group G, albeit by handing Motenegro an unlikely point and a place in the play-offs in the final game. Ireland also made it to the play-offs, and could be drawn against Montenegro, but Wales and Scotland miss out once again.

England: Ashley Young provided a rare headed finish to an even rarer superb delivery from Theo Walcott. Young then

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The Return of King Carlos

Carlos Cuellar got on the pitch last night for the first time since his knee operation in May, playing 45 minutes in the reserves’ 1-0 win over Chelsea – Callum Robinson with the goal – and says that he’s feeling good.

That’s great news for a very popular player, but what happens from here remains to be seen. It seemed likely that Rangers would have pursued their interest to conclusion during the summer had it not been for his knee

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Looking forward (to Everton), not back in anger (at England)

Another international break has come and gone, time to focus on the bread and butter stuff. If you watched England labour to three points against Wales at Wembley this week, as a Villa fan, the line-up may have looked a lot like the image below. It probably stung quite a bit for most of us.

This is a relatively rare experience for us, but it’s been coming and it’s easy to lose sight of an important fact amongst the bitterness. In

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O Captain! My Captain!

For all the questions regarding the strength in depth of the current Aston Villa squad, there hasn’t been a great deal of discussion, so far as I’ve seen, about the captaincy. In truth, the role of the captain is often overblown, and it has to be said that the other highly paid professional athletes on the pitch shouldn’t need any motivation or encouragement from a colleague, but a great leader can still be worth his weight in gold.

Or points. I

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Gerard Houllier Live and Uncut

Maybe I’m just being over sensitive, but it really seems that Gérard Houllier is having his words twisted more than I’m used to seeing. It may well be because he’s reputedly more forthcoming with journalists than many managers, certainly than his predecessor, but it would be a shame if he ended up being punished via the media for his candour.

MON was the master of talking and talking, but saying very little. Houllier gets to the point and his

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Sunderland 1 Aston Villa 0

A Richard Dunne own goal (an unwelcome record 8th in the Premiership) proved the only difference between the teams at the final whistle, but Gérard Houllier will be left scratching his head wondering why the side he sent out struggled to get a foot into this game until the 2nd half.

Perhaps team selection had a lot to do with it; Stephen Ireland far from settled, Richard Dunne far from fitness, but the XI that took to the field ought to

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