Richard Dunne could stay at Aston Villa despite him missing the entire season because of a groin injury, according to Paul Lambert.

The Villa chief was expected to free up some space on the Villa Park wage bill this summer when the 33-year-old Republic of Ireland international central defender’s current deal expires at the end of June.

However, despite being unable to call upon Dunne’s services all season because of the injury he picked up last summer, Lambert insisted that ‘the door is not closed’ on the player staying at the club.

On the prospect of Dunne, who is training with the academy youngsters and is unlikely to be fit for Ireland’s summer internationals, being offered a new deal, Lambert told the Birmingham Mail: “I haven’t spoken to him at all about that.

“I need to see how his fitness is. He’s doing really fine at the moment, training with the kids.

“He’s not played for nearly a year so to ask the lad to go and play for his country this summer is too much. He’s got to be comfortable with himself with the injury. The most important thing for me is that he can keep playing.

“He’s a top international player, who has just been unfortunate this injury has been an absolute nightmare for us.

“Once I know he’ll be all right we can look at it. The door is not closed, not at all.”