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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 21 February, 2019

Scottish Premiership leaders hope to extend young Irish defender's impressive loan spell

Jimmy Dunne has helped Hearts to set the pace this season.

Burnley and Republic of Ireland U21 defender Jimmy Dunne, who's currently on loan at Hearts.
Burnley and Republic of Ireland U21 defender Jimmy Dunne, who's currently on loan at Hearts.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

HEARTS MANAGER CRAIG Levein is keen to ensure that young defender Jimmy Dunne remains with the club until the end of the season.

Having joined on loan from Burnley in August, Dunne has helped the Edinburgh club to set the pace in the Scottish Premiership. Levein’s side are currently three points clear of Celtic in the 2018-19 campaign.

A 21-year-old central defender, Dunne has impressed during his time at Tynecastle so far, chipping in with two goals in his eight appearances. His performance in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Aberdeen earned him a place in BT Sport’s Scottish team of the week, as selected by former Celtic striker Chris Sutton.

The Louth native is due to return to Burnley in January, but Levein intends to contact the Premier League club shortly with a view to extending the loan agreement.

“I’ve already spoken to Jimmy and I just need to get in touch with Burnley. I will do that in the next couple of weeks,” the Hearts boss said, as reported by the Daily Record.

“I’ve been pleased with him. He has brought — for a young guy — quite a lot of calmness to the team along with his obvious attributes. He is a good passer of the ball and is good in the air and has decent pace. He’s a calm boy, he’s low-maintenance and is not difficult to deal with at all.”

Dunne was on the books at Manchester United before being signed by Burnley in 2016. Prior to allowing him to leave on loan for Hearts, the Clarets handed the player a contract extension which will keep him at Turf Moor until the summer of 2020 at least.

Last January, Dunne made a loan move to Accrington Stanley and played 20 games for the club as they achieved promotion to England’s third tier by winning the League Two title.

Levein added: “With loan players you need to get the right ones. That’s the critical thing. We have had players here in the past who have not been right for what we are. It’s important that we get that part of it right.”

Dunne has also won two Republic of Ireland U21 caps this year — the most recent of which came as a substitute in last week’s 2-0 defeat to Germany — although a report from the Irish Independent earlier this month claimed he is considering an offer to join up with the Northern Ireland senior squad.

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Paul Dollery

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