QPR boss Cifuentes explains reasons behind Jimmy Dunne’s new role at right-back

Having helped QPR to three wins from three matches since returning to the starting eleven, defender Jimmy Dunne has caught the eye of late.

The 26-year-old has regularly been used as a centre-back throughout his career but was brought into the team at right back for the 1-0 win at Bristol City and adapted well before continuing to impress in the victories against Rotherham United and Leicester City that have followed.

Dunne had been an unused substitute for the five games before the trip to Ashton Gate, yet he is now keeping regular right-back Reggie Cannon out of the team courtesy of his performances in this new role.

“Reggie had been playing at a good level, but he got sick [before the Bristol City game] and we had to find a solution,” explained head coach Cifuentes.

“We thought that the way Jimmy was training, the confidence that he gives us every day in the way he performs and how competitive he is, we thought he could adapt well [to playing right back].

“Many times we look at the positions rather than the skills but for me football is about the skills. We use the skills of Jimmy in that position. We are not asking Jimmy to be someone else because he is playing in the right full-back position.

“All the credit to him, he is doing really well. I think a big test as well has been one-on-one situations. Some people can underestimate him because he is a tall player, but actually his capacity in one v one situations, even in open space, is really good because he is smart, [and] he has a good tactical defensive foundation.

“I don’t believe so much in isolating different parts of the game. The better positioning you have, the more time on the ball you have, and the easier it is to play and basically that is what we have been working on.

“He has a good build-up game, better than some people might think. He can use both feet at quite a good level. He is learning some things about body shape and how to position himself using his strengths.

“All the credit to him because he is always available for training, always very professional and ready to learn.

“I am glad to see a player with his personality, how positive he has been. The games when he has been on the bench, he was helping.

“That applies to a lot of the players. Everyone knows there will be a moment for them in the season. I am enjoying as much as him the success he has had in the last three games.”

After missing the first two months of the season with a shoulder injury, Dunne featured regularly this term for QPR under both Cifuentes and his predecessor Gareth Ainsworth.

The Manchester United academy graduate played in all but two games between the beginning of October and Rangers’ defeat to Watford in the middle of January.

The form of fellow centre-backs Steve Cook and Jake Clarke-Salter made it seem unlikely that Dunne would find a way back into the team as QPR started to pick up results following a disappointing festive period, but Cifuentes made it clear that his head never dropped.

“All of the players have questions when they don’t play, and different managers try to approach that in different ways,” he said.

“We cannot justify all our decisions. We are paid to make decisions and we try and do what is best for the team. Players always think they deserve to play, but Jimmy was always excellent, being positive and helping the group.

“As a manager, it is a great feeling when the players who have been on the bench, like Jimmy or [Morgan] Fox, celebrate a victory. That means there is strength in this group.

“I try to be as fair as I can, I know it is impossible as a manager, but I try to encourage the players to train well, compete well and use their chances, because football can change so quick they need to be ready. He is a good example.”

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