Paul Lambert has admitted Richard Dunne could still have a future at Aston Villa - despite not playing for the club this season.
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The Aston Villa manager feels the veteran defender could still win himself a new contract at the end of the season, just months after it looked as if the 33-year-old would be leaving the club.
Dunne has been plagued by injuries since the summer with operations on hip and groin problems and it was thought Lambert was ready to offload him earlier this season.
His contract expires in the summer and the belief was that Lambert would allow the Republic of Ireland international to move on, with several Championship sides prepared to offer Dunne a fresh start.
Lambert has also shown he is determined to bring a more youthful approach at Villa Park, but now it appears Dunne may still have a role to play, if he can prove his fitness.
"It is not a case of running out of time. I know what the guy can do. It is not as if he is 19 or 20 years old and has to impress. I have an open mind but the main thing for me is that he is going to be fit again," Lambert said.
"We will have to wait and see what the surgeon has said about the injury. I am pretty sure that he will not require another operation.
"The advice that Richard has been given is that he will just have to battle through the problem. I will have a rough idea of what will happen after what the surgeon has been saying to Richard.
"The surgeon expected this to happen and the advice was to go back and see him again if it did. First and foremost the main thing is to get the guy back to fitness.
"That is the big thing for me. There is nothing in my mind other than getting that lad fit."