Tuesday 23 January 2018

Dunne signs QPR deal with strings attached

Dunne: Flying out to Austria today
Dunne: Flying out to Austria today
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

RICHARD DUNNE has been given a season to resurrect his career after signing for relegated Queens Park Rangers.

But such has been the extent of the hip and groin problems suffered by the Ireland centre-half, his new club have inserted a clause in his contract which means that the deal can be terminated if his injury nightmare returns to haunt him.

The 33-year-old will travel to Austria today with his new team-mates with the hope of getting a run of games in pre-season after missing all of Aston Villa's campaign in 2012/13.

His last competitive match came against Italy at Euro 2012, although he returned to action for Ireland against Georgia in the end-of-season friendly in May.

The prospect of Dunne playing regularly will come as a major boost to Giovanni Trapattoni, who has acknowledged the Dubliner's importance to the cause ahead of the make-or-break series of qualifiers this autumn that will decide whether Ireland can reach next year's World Cup in Brazil.

The Tallaght native's absence has been keenly felt during the campaign so far as he sat out all six games due to the persistent groin and hip injuries that saw him undergo surgery three times over the past year and travel to the United States for treatment.

New boss Harry Redknapp acknowledged that the defender's long-term injury problems meant that the signing was a risk.

But after selling Christopher Samba back to Anzhi Makhachkala, he needs leaders and knows that Dunne will bring qualities so sorely lacking in the team that was relegated last season.

"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 (Manchester) 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.

Problems

"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."

QPR are just Dunne's fourth club, following Everton, City and Aston Villa; this season will be his second in the second tier of English football.

"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," he said.

"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 (owner) Tony (Fernandes) – there's a real determination to bounce back into the Premier League, which is where we all want to be."

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