Charles has Dunne wel

Reporter: Matthew Chambers
Date published: 26 August 2016

DESPITE having no summer training, new boy Charles Dunne has quickly played himself into contention to become boss Stephen Robinson's first-choice left-back.

Dunne (23) could keep his place at Bradford tomorrow after stringing together three accomplished defensive performances in a week.

Handed his opportunity by an injury to Jamie Reckord - who will undergo a late fitness test - the one-time £250,000 signing by Paul Ince for Blackpool has pleased his manager with the level of his performances.

Dunne kept lively ex-Motherwell wing-back Chris Humphrey at bay at Preston.

Once linked with a move to Leeds, he has the benefit of 22 Championship appearances under his belt and won't be fazed by a big crowd at Valley Parade.

Dunne's level of performance means one less headache for Robinson, who has a verbal agreement in place to land a new loan striker from the Premier League in time to make a debut against Carlisle in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night.

"Charles came in with no pre-season at all and is a super signing for us," said Robinson, who has Billy Mckay back after a groin strain with other late tests given to Darius Osei (ankle) and Calaum Jahraldo-Martin (hamstring).

"His performances mean there is now a real fight on to be the number one at left-back.

"Defensively, he has been superb. He was up against one of the best wingers you will find in the Championship at Preston yet I don't think he got the better of him once.

"We are trying to get two players for every position and he fits that bill. We are almost there now, but are one striker short."

Robinson pits his wits against Stuart McCall tomorrow, the man who laid the groundwork for Motherwell's recent success and who he helped topple as Ian Baraclough's assistant when they last duelled.

"Stuart and Kenny (Black, his assistant) parted company with Motherwell and then he got the Rangers job," Robinson said.

"We beat them 6-1 in the play-off and that was a brilliant achievement considering the size of the respective clubs. I have the utmost respect for him. He is a great guy and he achieved fantastic things with Motherwell."

Asked to assess the season to date, Robinson proclaimed himself content in that he believes Athletic's progress is further down the line than envisaged a month ago.

"We have had a couple of wins and probably in reality we are ahead of where we expected to be," he said.

"The lads have shown an excellent work ethic and have done everything we have asked of them.

"We have had a difficult start to the season in terms of who we have faced and are on five points at the moment when it could easily be more.

"If you take it on the basis of every five games, you look at six points to be safe and eight to be in the play-offs. So we are not far away."

Timothee Dieng is likely to line up for Bradford tomorrow, with Filipe Morais on the bench.

Athletic (probable, 4-1-2-1-2): Ripley; Law, Clarke, Burgess, Dunne; Fane; Banks, Green; Flynn; Erwin, Mckay. Subs (from): Kettings, Wilson, Edmundson, Reckord, Croft, Woodland, McLaughlin, Winchester, Klok, Jahraldo-Martin, Osei, Cassidy.