Dunne gets boss backing

James Dunne. Picture: Joe Pepler
James Dunne. Picture: Joe Pepler

James Dunne has been told to stick with his aggressive style as he walks the disciplinary tightrope.

The Blues midfielder picked up his seventh yellow card of the season in the 2-1 League Two defeat at Shrewsbury Town on Saturday.

And having already served a one-match ban this season for collecting five bookings, the 25-year-old knows he is now closing in on a two-match suspension if he reaches 10 cautions before April of next year.

But Blues boss Andy Awford has no plans to ask the former Stevenage man to tone down his approach and is prepared to accept the seemingly inevitable punishment for his influential midfielder.

Awford said: ‘The message to him is: “Don’t change anything”.

‘I knew exactly what I was signing this season.

‘I knew I was getting someone who would get suspended.

‘But we have a squad big enough to deal with it when he does get suspended.

‘Some cards are necessary in football and some aren’t.

‘I don’t want to stop him tackling, that’s for sure.

‘It’s an important part of the game.

‘He’s a combative player and that’s his style.

‘If you take that away from him, you wouldn’t have the same player.’

It’s unclear whether Dunne’s latest caution was down to a foul on Shrewsbury’s Bobby Grant or for supposedly kicking the ball away a moment later.

And the former Arsenal trainee was clearly seen trying to protest his innocence.

But it was the third game in a row Dunne had his name taken by the referee and his seventh yellow card in 11 matches.

‘Maybe if he was a little bit more careful he could be on four or five, instead of seven,’ said Awford.

‘Maybe he needs to have a little look at it but I’d rather have James Dunne as he is than taking it out of him.

‘He has that stature and presence in the middle of the park – that’s Dunney.’

But Dunne has already shown on several occasions this season that his desire to win tackles brings much more to the team than simply winning back possession.

‘He makes those eye-catching tackles at times,’ said Awford.

‘That can set the tone for a team and it can give everyone a lift. It can make a real difference to the crowd as well when they see a player doing that.’

The Blues boss, meanwhile, remains encouraged with the partnership developing between Dunne and Hollands, who appears to be far more influential since the return to a 4-4-2 system.

Awford added: ‘Last Tuesday, him and Danny Hollands were outstanding against Stevenage.

‘Against Shrewsbury, they were good. Very good.

‘They’re a good pair. If they keep playing like that as a pair and a team we’ll be alright.’