RICHARD DUNNE will get a taste of life outside of the Premier League for the second time in his career after he signed a one-year deal with QPR.
Harry Redknapp is a long-time admirer of Dunne and the Rangers boss made the Dubliner (33) one of his main signings ahead of a season where the priority for big-spending QPR is to win automatic promotion back to the Premier League.
The contract has built-in clauses to protect the club in case Dunne – out of action for a year – suffers another injury breakdown.
"This is a great signing for us. He's a top-class defender and a great guy. He's a good character and just what we need," said Redknapp.
"He was City's Player of the Year four years running, and he will be fantastic at this football club. He's exactly the type I'm looking for.
"Obviously he had his problems last season with the injury but there's an agreement in place that if he breaks down, the contract can be ended. He's confident he'll be okay and from our point of view, if he doesn't have any problems with it then we've just signed a very, very good centre-half."
Apart from one season with Manchester City (2001/02), Dunne has spent his entire career in England's top flight and he has made more appearances in the 20 years of Premier League football than any other Irish player, 408 games in that division.
"I've played in the Championship and won it with Manchester City, so hopefully my experience will benefit the team over the course of the season. It's a good challenge for me and one I'm very excited about," Dunne said after QPR confirmed his arrival on a 12-month contract.
"I've been very close to signing for Harry on a couple of occasions and the opportunity to work with him really appealed to me. Players want to play for Harry and I'm no different.
"I know the club didn't have a good season last term, but – having spoken to Harry, as well as Tony Fernandes – there's a real determination to bounce back into the Premier League, which is where we all want to be."
While the futures at club level of compatriots such as Keith Fahey, Stephen Hunt, Stephen Ward, Kevin Doyle and Shay Given are in doubt, the fact Dunne has secured a deal with a high-profile club is a boost for Ireland.
Dunne had been linked with moves to the USA or some Asian leagues, so the fact he's hooked up with a London club will be seen as good news by manager Giovanni Trapattoni.