Duffy's Debut Delight
Ireland defender grateful for loan after earning first cap.
Shane Duffy has credited his season-long loan at Yeovil Town for his long-awaited Republic of Ireland debut.
The 22-year-old had been called up for an international training camp four years ago, but suffered a freak injury which left him with a lacerated liver and an urgent need for blood after losing two-thirds of his supply.
Since then, Duffy has worked his way up to being Under-21 captain for Club and country before Roberto Martinez approved a temporary switch to the Glovers at the start of the campaign.
Yeovil were unable to beat the drop after a gruelling season in the Championship, but the Everton centre-half revelled in the chance to play regular first-team football.
His form caught the eye of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill, who rewarded the Derry-born Blue with a maiden cap in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Costa Rica.
"I was delighted for a start," explained Duffy. "Obviously when you start playing football, you want to play for your country, so I was delighted when it actually came.
"It's been a long four years. I was just focusing on club football to see if I could get back to where I was, and hopefully this season I have shown that.
"I thought I did all right in the game, but it's the first step and hopefully I can do better.
"Playing the other night was sort of a reward for what happened four years ago, so I was just delighted. I am made up to even be in the squad, so to play was a dream.
"[O'Neill] said I did some good things and I did some bad things which I need to improve on, and that is what you want to hear because hopefully that means he cares about me, so it was good.
"I felt comfortable out there. For me, it's just a game of football, but you have to concentrate a lot more and if you make one mistake, you get punished at international level.
"I felt like I was ready for it after the season I have had. I would have been nervous if I hadn't played football all year and then had just been thrown in. I felt ready and hopefully I didn't disappoint.
"It's been brilliant for me [at Yeovil] and it's got me where I am now, so it's credit them for bringing me down there and giving me a chance to be in the senior squad.
"I'm just focusing purely on Ireland and then I'll take my holidays. I'm going back to Everton for pre-season and the manager is going to see if I'm up to the standard. If I am, I'll stay and try to get into the team and, if not, I'll have to try and move on somewhere else.
"There are not many clubs better to be at than Everton and when you're there you've got to try to stay there. Hopefully with a bit of luck I can impress in pre-season and try to get into the team."