ASTON VILLA MANAGER Alex McLeish is tonight thanking his lucky stars for his Irish contingent.
Skipper Richard Dunne returned from an injury lay-0ff to help the struggling side to a valuable point against midlands rivals West Brom today.
The Ireland centre half’s return is good news for the Boys in Green of course, having recovered from a broken collarbone that kept him sidelined for two-and-a-half-month.
“Richard is a leader, a leader by example,” McLeish said. ”We took a calculated gamble. Richard told me if I needed him, he was good to go.
“I said ‘your presence would be wonderful’ and so it proved because he produced a wonderful performance today. He headed everything, he read the play, he calmed the players down. It was a real top performance.
Behind Dunne meanwhile, Shay Given earned more plaudits for an injury-time save to disappoint the Hawthorns crowd.
“It was a phenomenal save,” said Baggies boss Roy Hodgson. “Had that gone in, it would have been quite difficult for Villa given the other results. Bolton did well to take a point at Sunderland and Wigan have had a great result against Newcastle so it would have been tougher for Villa.”