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Dunne: Defensive record will be key

JIMMY Dunne insists that Rangers must continue to keep clean sheets if they are to maintain their ascend up the Sky Bet Championship table.

Remarkably, QPR have scored for some 30 consecutive league fixtures – but it’s the improvement in defence which has been particularly pleasing in recent weeks, with three shoutouts from the last four outings.

Mark Warburton’s R’s go into tonight’s (Monday) game at Derby County knowing a win would lift us to third in the table.

“I think that’s what will ultimately take us that step further,” Dunne said. “You can always bank on us to score, it’s just about if we can lock the backdoor.

“We just need to keep concentrating at the back and keep defending from the front.

“We did that a lot better in the second half last week [against Huddersfield Town, 1-0 win] – and it felt like just a matter of time before our goal would come.

“It’s nice to be part of a team where we know that if we do our jobs [in defence], the lads will score. I was delighted for Luke [Amos] that it was him for all his hard work and the little details he works on.

“It felt like a big win – we wanted to continue where we left off against Luton and it’s obviously good to get into a winning momentum.

“Important too are the clean sheets. The one on Wednesday night was well-earned and took everyone’s concentration to earn it. It took calmness, starting with Seny [Dieng] right through to the front.”

Dunne added: “It’s just about gathering momentum somehow. We went to Cardiff and Blackpool recently and earned four points from two games.

“There are going to be games like that again and it’s good to know that if we don’t win games away from home, we don’t lose them.

“Blackpool wasn’t our best performance ever, but we still came away with a point. We kept moving and we remained positive.”

Tonight, Rangers face a Derby side who have been hit by a combined 21-point deduction for financial matters.

Wayne Rooney’s Rams haven’t taken the decision lying down, though, earning four points from their previous two fixtures against table-topping duo Fulham and AFC Bournemouth.

“They are a good side,” Dunne said. “It would be very easy for them to crumble given the situation they’re in, but the players individually have a lot to play for and a lot to prove. They are playing for their careers.

“Regardless of their situation, it won’t be an easy game and we need to go and really earn a result.

“We’re going to try to make the game about us – which we always aim to do. We want to dominate possession in front of another strong away following. We’ll see how that goes.”

After his summer switch from Burnley, the impressive Dunne has become a regular fixture in Rangers’ starting XI in more recent times following Jordy de Wijs’ absence through injury.

The defender has certainly grasped his opportunity.

Dunne explained: “The selfish reasons I came here for, wanting to play and wanting to develop, feel more like ‘we’ now. Like can we finish top six, top four or can we do even better?

“What can we improve on and what as a team can we do better?

“I feel like I’ve been here much longer than I have! I really do feel part of things now.”

It’s nice to be part of a team where we know that if we do our jobs [in defence], the lads will score.

Jimmy Dunne