Wilson’s Wisdom: Dunne must adapt to situation

James Dunne   Picture: Joe Pepler
James Dunne Picture: Joe Pepler
Tareiq Holmes-Dennis limps off injured against Rochdale. Picture: Joe Pepler

Injured Holmes-Dennis pays tribute to Pompey

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He has been one of the success stories of the Pompey season so far.

But James Dunne must address the way he plays the game.

Dunne has become a popular player since his summer arrival and has added a physical presence that was definitely missing from the midfield at times last season.

His return to fitness after his absence through knee surgery has gone hand in hand with Pompey’s resurgence in recent weeks.

I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that is no coincidence.

As a player, he sets the tone, provides a spark and is ready for a scrap when others might not fancy it.

Pompey have shown a lot more stomach for a fight in recent times when things have gone against them.

And a snarling Dunne is a potent deterrent up against some of the other League Two bully boys.

But he missed the Oxford game and he will be missing again on Tuesday evening at Northampton.

And no matter how good a player is, he’s no use to anyone when he’s sitting in the stands.

He collected his 10th yellow card of the season in that remarkable comeback against Tranmere to trigger a two-match suspension.

Some even felt he was lucky to stay on the pitch after a trademark crunching tackle that made everybody wince – something we’ve had to do a few times watching Dunne this season.

The former Stevenage man will probably know himself that 10 bookings by February is too many.

But whether he has been fined or reprimanded by Andy Awford has not been made public.

Dunne could also yet face a visit to the FA for his disciplinary record.

There is no doubting his honesty as a footballer. He is not out to deliberately hurt anyone – but that doesn’t mean nobody gets hurt along the way.

And he rarely picks up those more frustrating yellow cards for dissent or kicking the ball away.

But while the old argument is that if you take that aggressive edge, you lose something from his game, Dunne himself has already proved he can adapt – and now he needs to take that extra step to improve and become even more important to Pompey.

There’s evidence to suggest he can do it.

If he wasn’t intelligent enough to understand the situation, he would have been sent off this term and he has yet to see a red card.

So by that, he has demostrated that when he is on a yellow card, he can stay on his feet or tone it down a notch with his tackling to stay out of further trouble.

Therefore, surely he can use that same strategy across an entire 90 minutes?

Ideally, Dunne wouldn’t have to change his style to suit the modern game as most of us enjoy his wholehearted approach.

Sadly, those pesky referees don’t seem to share our opinion on this one.

A player like him would have thrived in the 1970s, but the game in 2015 is a different animal so he simply has to adapt or face more future suspensions.

Hopefully, we’ll still get to see Dunne’s big tackles thundering in, but maybe, for the good of himself and his team, just not quite as frequently in future.