DUNK’S KEEN TO SHARE PLAUDITS
LEWIS Dunk has been Brighton’s rock at the back in their promotion campaign – but the Seagulls skipper is just as quick to praise those around him.
Chris Hughton’s troops head into today’s Championship finale against Aston Villa – where victory would secure the title ahead of Newcastle – with 21 clean sheets from their 45 games.
And, while Dunk has been singled out for his performances, he is eager to pay tribute to fellow centrehalves Shane Duffy, 25, Connor Goldson, 24, and Uwe Hunemeier, 31.
Dunk, 25, said: “We clicked as soon as he (Shane Duffy) came in. It took us a few games to get used to each other, because we hadn’t played together before, but once those few games were out of the way I think we fed off each other really well.
“We know each other’s games inside out. What my weaknesses are, he’s good at, and what his weaknesses are I’m good at. So, we bounce off each other and it’s a pleasure to play with him.”
Despite all the celebrations on the south coast this season, the club were shocked by the news that Goldson was ruled out for the season in February after he was diagnosed with a heart issue. The former Shrewsbury man required preventative surgery after the problem was discovered in routine cardiac screening by the club and hopes to return for pre-season. Dunk added: “I’m close to Connor and I couldn’t believe it when he told me. I was in the hotel with him and it was a massive shock. “He’s completed his first jog and I was so proud to see him back out there. “I can’t wait for him to be back and available for selection. It will be amazing for him and a massive relief.” After having to bide his time on the sidelines, Huenemeier slotted into the Brighton defence seamlessly and Dunk was again keen to extol the German’s virtues.
He added: “He sat on the sidelines for so long, waiting for his opportunity. He works so hard in training every day. To be ready, like he has been, was unbelievable and he’s been amazing for us.”
Now he is in the big-time, Dunk hopes to catch England boss Gareth Southgate’s eye.
“Hopefully I can show what I can do in the Premier League and follow in Michael Keane’s footsteps and get the call-up like he did.”
Villa boss Steve Bruce has confirmed that striker Jonathan Kodjia will be out for up to six months with a broken ankle.
Bruce said: “Jonathan’s injury is devastating news. They are telling me it’s three to four months, which probably means the best part of six.
“We have been dealt a harsh blow but we wish him a speedy recovery.”
PRAISE: Brighton captain Lewis Dunk