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Richard Dunne's time with Aston Villa comes to an end

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Richard Dunne and Aston Villa are parting ways, with the defender able to leave on a free once his contract expires in June.

Drew Hallowell

Richard Dunne hasn't played a competitive match for Aston Villa since last season's closing match against Norwich. He hurt his groin against Italy at the Euros, and despite surgery and various appointments with specialists, Dunne's never been able to return to full fitness. Now, it turns out that the two matches he played while Villa were on their preseason tour in the U.S. will be the last matches he ever played in the claret and blue.

Dunne, now 33 years old, signed with Villa from Manchester City way back in 2009. Since that time, he's notched 95 appearances with Villa, scoring four goals and picking up 19 yellow cards -- but, surprisingly considering Villa's current defensive woes -- was never sent off while with the club. However, there's no record of exactly how many own goals the defender has managed to gift the other side.

As hard as it is for this Dunne fan to admit, it's best for the club for him to leave. 33 is pretty old, even for a defender. But even more significantly, Dunne's exit means his wages -- some fairly hefty ones at that -- will now be off the books. The end of the season proved that Paul Lambert's approach to football can work at Aston Villa. Now it's time to finish offloading the heavy earners and get this club in order again.

Best of luck to you, Richard Dunne.