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Richard rallies RANGERS for tiLt AT titLE

IRELAND veteran Richard Dunne has set himself a target of winning the Championship title with QPR this season.

Dunne, 34, has been a key figure for Harry Redknapp's promotion-chasing side this season and today Rangers face another test, where Dunne gets a rare chance to line out against Mick McCarthy, the man who gave Dunne his Ireland debut way back in 2000 as QPR take on an in-form Ipswich Town side.

"Mick is very good, he is a straight talker, he tells you what he expects from you, he is someone who gets the best out of his players," says Dunne of McCarthy, who has been nominated for December's manager of the month award in the Championship.

"He has had a great run recently and Ipswich look good for the playoffs now, if they can keep going."

Dunne hopes that he can triumph over Ipswich, and his one-time Ireland teammates Daryl Murphy and Stephen Hunt, today as QPR need to lift their form to get closer to their ambition.

"We have half a season to go now and we are focused on winning the league, that has to be our aim," says Dunne, who joined QPR from Aston Villa in the summer after a tough time with injury.

"The move has been great for me, I have had an enjoyable half-season so far. I have really enjoyed it here, the atmosphere around the place is great, it's a great place to work and the icing on the cake would be promotion at the end of the season.

"We have had a hard run recently but we need to forget what has gone on, work hard in the rest of the season and make sure it is a successful second half to the season.

"It is a tight league – Leicester will probably buy some new players in the window, the likes of Ipswich, Derby and Forest all have a chance, in recent years in the Championship teams tend to come late and make the playoffs, like Wigan and Blackburn."

QPR's form has dipped in recent weeks, culminating in a heavy defeat to Everton in the FA Cup.

"It has been a bit of a mixed bag over the last few weeks, we'd have liked to have picked up more points over Christmas than we did, we just have to see it as a blip in our season and we can't get too down-hearted about it, the same way we can't get too carried away when it's going well," says Dunne, who was rested for the cup meeting with his former club.


"We had a break from the league with the FA Cup game last week and that gives you a chance to step back and examine things, and when you look at the table it's not all that bad. We haven't had a great run in the league recently. "In terms of the Everton game we were never in any doubt that they were a better side than us and it put us in our place a bit.

"We have been beaten by Leicester and Forest recently and we need to get up a level, we need to improve and be beating the likes of them, and if we can get promoted and get to play Everton again we will have a stronger squad and have more belief in ourselves."