Celtic target Richard Dunne freed by Villa

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CELTIC target Richard Dunne is one of five players who are leaving Aston Villa.

The Republic of Ireland international, along with USA defender Eric Lichaj and goalkeeper Andy Marshall, is at the end of his contract.

Jean Makoun, who spent last season on loan at Ligue 1 side Rennes, will join the French club after they took up an option to buy him and Simon Dawkins, on loan from Tottenham, will return to his parent club.

Dunne, 33, did not play for Villa manager Paul Lambert last season due to injury but came on for the final 25 minutes of Sunday’s 4-0 international friendly victory over Georgia – his first action since June last year.

The defender, who signed for Villa in 2009 from Manchester City, was hoping to use the end-of-season games with the Republic as a shop window but now appears to have lost his bid to start Friday’s World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands.

However, Celtic manager Neil Lennon has already shown an interest in bringing him to Parkhead. Lennon said: “We have made no formal or informal movements as yet. Richard has had injury problems and hasn’t played for a long time, so I don’t know what kind of condition he is in. And the way we have been signing players over the years, he would fall out of that category, but he is a player I have known a long time and have always liked.

“We have also signed guys like Daniel Majstorovic before and it is always good to have one or two experienced players in.”