Shane Duffy mightn’t be on his way to Poland for Euro 2012 but the Everton defender is looking forward to supporting the boys in green after completing his breakthrough season.
The 20-year-old was part of the Irish senior squad for the first time for February’s 1-1 friendly draw with Czech Republic at the Aviva Stadium and hopes to get enough club football under his belt to try and impress Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni ahead of the qualification series for the 2014 World Cup. Duffy will be following the progress of Ireland in Letterkenny, where his dad Brian is from, and his hometown of Derry.
“I cannot wait to watch the lads to be honest,” he said. “Hopefully they will do well as they’re all great lads I met when I was there. You can see the quality within the squad but it’s a very tough group with Croatia, Spain and Italy. I’ll be right behind them.”
Duffy made his Premier League debut for Everton at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur in January and went onto make seven appearances for the side managed by David Moyes.
The central defender had previously made his breakthrough on loan spells at Burnley and Scunthorpe.
The Lower Galliagh Road native has not ruled out the idea of a further loan, insisting his desire is to play football.
“It was brilliant at the time,” he added of his Premier League involvement. “But it slowed down a bit in the last three or four months. Hopefully I will get playing as I need games. We’ll have to see how next season starts off. I don’t know where I’m going to be. I’ll wait and see.
“I’m young and am focusing on club football at the minute. I just want to play football as I’m not that sort of player who stops and starts. That’s how you can get the best out of me.”
Duffy rounded off his season at the Showgrounds, the home of Sligo Rovers, on Monday as Noel King’s Ireland U-21 side came from two goals down to grab a 2-2 draw against Italy in their qualification series for next year’s finals in Israel.
Italy went into the game with a 100 per cent record after five games and they appeared to be heading for another victory after an own goal from Duffy and a Ciro Immobile strike guided them to a 2-0 lead.
However, a penalty from the impressive Robbie Brady, who spent last season on loan at Hull City from Manchester United, in the 61st minute was followed five minutes later by an equaliser from Greg Cunningham of Manchester City.
Italy’s miserable second half was rounded off when Marco Verratti was given a straight red card in injury time for tripping Aidan White of Leeds United.
The draw sees Ireland move to within two points of second-placed Turkey, with King’s men having two games in hand and the Turks their next opponents, at home on August 14.
Duffy was disappointed with his first career own goal but glad his team fought back to claim a point, which leaves them in good stead for a place in the top two in the group, which will guarantee a two-legged play-off for the finals.
It was good to fight back there and get the draw,” he said. “That was the most important thing about it. We showed good belief in ourselves but that’s been the case since day one. We’re not afraid of the big teams and are aiming to qualify. We showed that to come back from 2-0 down there to draw against a top team.
“The lads will be in better shape by the time we play Turkey. We’ve been off-season for three or four weeks now so it’s difficult to jump in and play qualifying games in the middle of your summer. We’ll be fitter and you’ll see more quality in the team then. We always had belief as we showed against Italy.”