It won't be an easy ride for Championship leaders Burnley from here on in — warns ex-Clarets defender Jimmy Dunne

Ex-Burnley defender Jimmy Dunne feels the second half of the season is going to be a real test for Vincent Kompany's Clarets.

The 25-year-old Irishman knows the Championship leaders are there to be shot at and he's hoping that QPR are the ones to land the first blow.

The Dundalk-born defender, who left Turf Moor last summer, has been impressed with the table-toppers this term, but he's warned that they're not in for an easy ride at Loftus Road on Sunday.

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He said: "It's a big one for us because our results speak for themselves previous to the break, which probably came at a good time for us. It's a good opportunity to set a mark and attack the next four games. The best way to show the world that we're capable of being up the top is to beat the current number one.

Burnley's Jimmy Dunne (right) celebrates his side's second goal with team mate Josh Benson Photographer Andrew Kearns/CameraSport The Carabao Cup Third Round - Millwall v Burnley - Wednesday 23rd September 2020 - The Den - London World Copyright © 2020 CameraSport. All rights reserved. 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - [email protected] - www.camerasport.com

"They play really good football, they're a young side, they're doing really well, but I don't think the season is going to be as easy for them as they currently expect. I don't think it will be as straight sailing for them as they might think. We're not going to make it easy for them. I'm looking forward to the game on Sunday."

Dunne, who spent time on loan at Barrow, Accrington Stanley, Hearts, Sunderland and Fleetwood Town during his four-year stay at Burnley, admits that the international break has given the Hoops time to reflect and recharge.

QPR are in the play-off places despite picking up a solitary point from the 15 available to them prior to the cut-off for the Qatar World Cup.

They also managed to score just once in those five games before manager Michael Beale's departure, with the ex-Rangers assistant returning to Ibrox as the boss.

Burnley's Jimmy Dunne during the pre-match warm-up Photographer Rich Linley/CameraSport Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round - Burnley v Norwich City - Saturday 25th January 2020 - Turf Moor - Burnley World Copyright © 2020 CameraSport. All rights reserved. 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - [email protected] - www.camerasport.com

"We wanted the band aid to be ripped off pretty quickly because there was a lot of speculation over our manager [Michael Beale] leaving us and it's not easy when it comes to the frame of mind of a lot of players, but it was helpful that it happened over the break," Dunne said.

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"We didn't have games to think about, we could clear our heads, we reflected over the previous period and we're focussed now. I don't think it could have come at a better time.

"Everyone is back to full fitness, and everyone knows that our group is as talented as any other in the league. We've got some wonderful talent, a great group and Paul Hall has done some really great work with us while he's been looking after us. I feel really confident."

Premier League football could still be the reward for both clubs this season, with Dunne keen to get back to the top after sampling a tapas-sized taste of it.

The former Manchester United youth player made a scoring debut in a 4-2 loss at the hands of Leicester City and the King Power Stadium and he went on to make further appearances against Southampton and Sheffield United.

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Victory over his former employers, as he goes up against close friend Josh Brownhill, would go some way to helping the centre back achieve that goal.

And now he can't wait for kick-off in West London. "I've never really felt like that [having a point to prove] and I've never really thought like that," he said.

"My time at Burnley was an unbelievable development for my career, there is no better place that I could've gone to help me transition from an academy footballer to a competitive professional footballer at men's level. It was the best and only place for me.

"I want to play in the Premier League again in the future, I want to get there as soon as possible and I want to play there for as long as possible. That has always been my goal. In the meantime I'm just enjoying the journey to get there.

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"Me and Josh [Brownhill] will be laughing at each other during the game, it'll be funny going up against him and seeing my old pal, but it's a very competitive fixture for us. We're in a position where we need to string some wins together."