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The Rams boss is keen to bring the Republic of Ireland international to Pride Park but feels that the defender may be reluctant to drop down into the Championship

Derby County manager Nigel Clough has admitted that he would like to sign Richard Dunne "if the possibility became available".

Dunne, 33, was recently released by Premier League outfit Aston Villa and is seeking a new club before the beginning of the new season and Clough revealed that he would be interested in signing the centre back.

However, the Rams boss suggested that a move was currently unlikely, considering that the Republic of Ireland international was unwilling to drop down a division to play in the Championship

"We know he's been released by Aston Villa and we've heard he wants to stay in the Premier League," Clough told the Derby Evening Telegraph. "He's that kind of 'Jake Buxton' centre-half we like.

"If the possibility became available down the line, we would look at it. But I think he will be looking to stay in the league above for now."

With Republic of Ireland youth international Mark O'Brien making a gradual return to fitness, Clough is keen to bolster his defensive line and the Derby boss indicated that he may seek a short-term loan move in order to provide cover in the area.

He said: "Mark O'Brien has encouraged us and is ahead of schedule in his return to fitness. Having said that, we don't want to put too much pressure on him to rush back, so even if we got in a good quality loan until January or something like that, just to give us a bit of cover, that would be great.

"It could be a young player from the league above but we've also talked about a couple of players from our division. We're still relaxed about the situation," added Clough.