EVERTON star Shane Duffy was back in action in Ireland yesterday, months ahead of schedule following the horrific injury at the end of last season which almost cost the teenager his life, writes Aidan Fitzmaurice.
The defender suffered a freak injury during a training game with the Republic of Ireland senior squad, and his club admitted that only for the rapid reaction of the FAI medical staff, Duffy could have died.
At the time it was feared that Duffy would be out of action for at least six months to allow him recover from the injury, but Derry lad Duffy has made rapid progress in his rehab and yesterday was a big moment for him as he played for Everton's reserves in a game against Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds.
"It's brilliant to see Duffy back," said Everton's Ireland U21 cap Seamus Coleman after the 2-0 win for the Toffees' second string at the Showgrounds, a game played as part of the deal which brought Coleman from Sligo to Goodison Park last year.
"I think a lot of people actually realise how lucky he is and he was very close to maybe not even being here so he will be counting his lucky stars really."
Duffy will aim to build up his fitness with the Everton reserves but his comeback has come too late for an international recall, Duffy missing out on a debut for the Republic's U21s against Estonia tomorrow night.