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Injury rules Duffy out for rest of season

BLACKBURN Rovers boss Gary Bowyer says he's devastated by the news that Ireland defender Shane Duffy will miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury, writes AIDAN FITZMAURICE.

Capped once at senior level, Duffy had impressed since joining Rovers from Everton in the summer, scoring once in 22 appearances for Bowyer's side.

But Derry native Duffy has undergone surgery on a knee injury and will not play again this season.

"It is devastating news both for the lad and the club," said boss Gary Bowyer.

"He is an important member of the squad and it will be a big blow for him to miss important league and cup games."

Duffy confirmed news of the operation on twitter. "Op went well this morning on my knee, gutted to miss the rest off this season but will come back stronger I've been through worse!" he said.

Meanwhile, a fit-again Shane Long may have to wait for a chance in the Southampton side as boss Ronald Koeman says he will persist with Graziano Pelle as his main striker, despite that player's goal drought.

Long returned to the Saints squad last weekend after a layoff due to broken ribs, though he was an unused sub in the defeat to Liverpool. The Ireland man had hoped to get the nod up front as their lone striker against West Brom today but Koeman still trusts Pelle, who hasn't scored in nine games.

"I'm not a manager to change too fast positions. Ok, if you have real competition you can change," said Koeman.

"We can put Shane in front, and it's a good option, because against Ipswich (in the FA Cup) Shane played in front, but it's a different type of a number nine.

"You need that as a team, to have different options. If it takes too long, of course, you think as a manager about one different system, or two different players in front, to try something else - but it's not for this weekend."

Ireland's U19s enjoyed a second win over Azerbaijan in a friendly, following up Wednesday's 6-0 hammering with a 2-0 win yesterday. Ryan Manning and Jack Hallahan were on target for Paul Doolin's side, who now move on to the Euro qualifiers next month.