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Arsenal (A) Sun 1 Mar 2015, 14:05, Barclays Premier League


Shane Duffy insists he is ready for action, should he be called upon for the Everton first team.

The 21-year-old has been elevated up the defensive pecking order as Phil Jagielka continues his recovery from surgery on a gashed foot.

Duffy has been limited to just three substitute appearances for the Blues this season – against Leyton Orient, West Ham United and Oldham Athletic.

But while Jagielka is sidelined, the Irishman is prepared to take any opportunities that may come his way.

After helping Everton's Under-21s to an impressive 1-0 win at Chelsea, Duffy told “I’m just learning every day for when the manager needs me – this is why I’m playing in these [Under-21s] games. It’s important to get some match action so that if he needs to throw me in then I’m alright.

“It’s a good time to be around the team and we still have a lot to fight for in the league. It’s good to be around such quality players and I would probably learn more here than if I went out on loan.

“I’m happy to wait for my chance at Everton and hopefully that will be soon.”

Duffy has skippered the Club’s Under-21s side to top spot in Group One, with Alan Stubbs’ men opening up a healthy five-point lead after Monday's win over the west London outfit.

It was the second string’s fifth win in six matches and their fourth clean sheet since the mid-season break in January – a clear sign of progress.

Should Everton finish in first position, they would progress to the end-of-season play-offs involving the winners of Group Two and the three top teams in the Elite Group.

“It was a good win and we dug in well at the end,” Duffy said after the victory at Cobham. “The manager [Alan Stubbs] came in at half time and said to keep going but take our chances. We were patient and it was a great goal from Conor [McAleny].

“We started off slowly [at the start of the season] and were a new team that had just been put together. I think we have all matured – I have anyway, being one of the eldest players.

“The squad has been more or less the same for most games, which helps. There are a few first team players sometimes, but it has been drilled into us to stay together as a team and remain unbeaten for the season.”

tyias browning

Duffy was also full of praise for his Under-21s defensive colleague Tyias Browning who earned a call-up to the England Under-19s squad for upcoming match against Turkey.

Browning played at right-back during the early months in the season but has excelled at centre-half following the arrival of John Stones in January.

Duffy continued: “Tyias has been brilliant and he helps me out because he is quick and talks a lot. He deserves his call-up because he has worked hard all year.

“Hopefully he can push on because he is learning every week and has got it in him to be a top centre-half.”

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