Shane Duffy believes he has returned to Everton a better player having experienced virtually a full season of competitive first-team football.
The central defender spent the vast majority of the 2013/14 season out on loan at Championship outfit Yeovil Town.
He made 39 appearances for the Glovers – almost double the amount of games he had played previously in his career at first-team level.
Despite Yeovil’s best efforts, they were relegated back to League One after finishing bottom of English football’s second tier.
That disappointment aside, Duffy is grateful for the chance to play that many games at such a competitive and high-quality level.
“At the start it took time to get going because I hadn’t played football for a while,” Duffy explained to evertontv. “But then you realise the games come so thick and fast quickly after each other. I definitely enjoyed playing football for a full season for the first time.
“It was a good challenge for me and I enjoyed having to defend so much. It was just disappointing that we ended up going down, but I really enjoyed it and hopefully it will stand me in good stead for the future.
“I was gutted for the lads because they put so much effort in. With me going back it was a different feeling compared to them.
“Every point was a good point. It was an experience I have never been in before. It was so intense – you were looking out for results every week after your match.”
Duffy, who has been named in the Republic of Ireland squad for the friendlies against Turkey, Italy, Costa Rica and Portugal, will report back to Finch Farm in pre-season aiming to force his way into Roberto Martinez’s plans.
But if first-team opportunities at Everton are hard to come by, the Republic of Ireland man would welcome the chance to go back out on loan again.
“I will have to sit down with the manager and see what he wants for me and what I need to do to push on here or push on somewhere else. Hopefully it is here,” said Duffy.
“I will take my rest this summer, keep working hard and see what next season brings.”