Carsley: Dunne will do fine
Birmingham City midfielder Lee Carsley is adamant his former Republic of Ireland team-mate Richard Dunne will not be suffering from debut nerves when he makes a derby bow for his new club Aston Villa. Dunne, who signed for Villa in a £6m deal from Manchester City on transfer deadline day, has already been earmarked to play a key role in the plans of manager Martin O'Neill, starting with tomorrow's grudge match at St Andrew's.
Carsley knows Dunne better than most having played alongside him at international level and believes the 29-year-old centre-back will have no trouble coping with the big-match atmosphere. The former Everton midfielder said: "Richard Dunne will not be fazed by a local derby even if it is his debut for a new club.
"He has played in big games for Ireland as well as the Manchester derbies, so this should not be a problem. He is good player and he will be fine.
"Personally, I was surprised that Manchester City let him go because he is one of the best defenders I've ever played with," he said.
"His form over the last five or six years has been outstanding and I think he won the Manchester City player of the year award for the last four years.
"Obviously Manchester City have a different agenda and Richard Dunne was not part of it."
While Blues will face a battle to get past a Villa defence being marshalled by Dunne, Carsley is gearing up for a fight of his own just to get into Alex McLeish's side. Carsley was a key man in last season's successful promotion campaign, but competition for places in the centre of midfield has become intense.
The summer signing of Barry Ferguson from Rangers and the recent arrival of Teemu Tainio on loan from Sunderland mean Carsley knows he has a battle on his hands to ensure he remains a key player in McLeish's plans. He added: "We have got a lot of good midfield players in the squad including the latest signing Teemu Tainio.
"Keith Fahey has also done really well since coming in from Ireland last season.
"He has taken to the Premier League almost casually. He has taken it in his stride and hopefully that will continue for the rest of the season," said Carsley.
"But all of the new signings the manager has made this summer have settled in really well and that bodes well for the season."
McLeish is determined there will be no repeat of the 5-1 hammering when the sides last met in April 2008. He said: "We did get some bad luck on the day as two of the goals were offside and these things can kill you as goals change games.
"In the end we got a sound beating and we hold our hands up and accept that.
"We don't want to have that feeling again," he said. "We are at home and we want to make sure that Villa leave St. Andrew's knowing that they have been in a game.
"I have got to get the best out of my boys and if I can do that I know I will be satisfied with these lads."