Shane Duffy described his Premier League debut as a ‘dream come true’ after enjoying an impressive bow in the 2-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night.
With England man Phil Jagielka nursing damaged medial ligaments, Duffy was summoned back from a loan spell at Scunthorpe United to act as deputy to centre-halves Sylvain Distin and John Heitinga.
And the Irishman vindicated David Moyes’ faith in him when a wincing Distin hobbled out of the action midway through the second half at White Hart Lane.
Duffy looked sturdy in defence and even threatened the Spurs goal and, despite the night ending in defeat, it was still an encouraging and positive experience for the 20-year-old.
“It’s a dream come true to come and play in the Premier League,” he told evertontv. “It was a difficult game to come on in and try and stay at 1-0 and they are good team.
“I prepared in case something did happen, just in case. As soon as I got that call it was excitement and nervousness at the same time. As soon as I got on there I felt comfortable and I just tried to enjoy every moment.”
Duffy was straight into the action to thwart Spurs dangerman Emmanuel Adebayor and then came close to throwing the Blues a lifeline as he headed a corner over the bar.
The Ireland Under-21 international has been getting rave reviews for his displays on loan at Glanford Park this term, but he admitted the step up from League One to Premier League was instantly recognisable.
And nothing illustrated that gulf like Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s spectacular clincher on the hour – a strike that effectively killed the contest.
Duffy added: “You can tell the difference in the leagues, you have to be straight on it. The chance I had, I’d usually expect to do a bit better with that, but I was just delighted to get on the pitch and actually make my Premier League debut – that’s a big plus for me. But on the main side, it’s all about the result.
“The second goal was a great strike but it took a bit of a deflection also. As I said before, it’s one of those games – they are a very good team. It was difficult for them to break us down though and I thought we did alright. We’ll see what happens on Saturday now.”
Indeed Saturday could bring a full Premier League debut for Duffy with a game at Aston Villa beckoning and the extent of Distin’s troubles unclear.
And the Irishman said: “I’ll be ready. I’ll train well all week hopefully and if the manager needs me I’ll be ready but hopefully Sylvain is fit because he’s a strong centre half and a very good player. I’ll just be on my toes and be ready and if I’m needed I’ll play.”