Duffy has earned his new deal -- Jagielka

PHIL Jagielka says Irish U21 international Shane Duffy deserves his new contract after stepping up during Everton's defensive injury crisis last season.

The 20-year-old Irishman put pen to paper on a three-year deal last week, tying him to the club until 2015.

Although his debut came in a Europa League fixture against FC BATE Borisov in 2009, it was a four-game stint in January this year which truly marked Duffy's breakthrough into David Moyes' first-team squad.

With Jagielka already sidelined, Duffy replaced the stricken Sylvain Distin during a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham and subsequently helped the Blues to draws against Aston Villa and Blackburn and an FA Cup fourth round victory over Fulham.

That followed a successful League One loan spell with Scunthorpe United, while the youngster has also racked up eight caps for the Republic's U21 side.

And Jagielka said: "Duffy's a great lad and he's going to be a good centre-back.

"He obviously went out on loan and did really well and then we got a few injuries at the back and a few people weren't sure whether he'd be able to step up and handle it.

"But, fair play to him, I think he was up there among our best players in most of the games he played in.

"He's still young and he's about nine-feet tall, so he wins most of his headers.

"It's nice for him to get a new contract and I think it will settle him down again."