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No complaints from Duffy

HE WAS SUITED and booted for the trip. He even sang on the official team song for Euro 2012, but when Ireland's squad headed off to Italy last Sunday to prepare for the next stage of their European Championship build-up, Shane Duffy was back in Dublin with the Ireland U21s.

Everton man Duffy, along with Stephen Henderson, was part of the Ireland squad for the Czech Republic game in February where a lot of the preparation work for the Euros was done -- including the team song -- so a video of the tune now shows Duffy and Henderson in the background singing away, but they didn't make the cut for the final panel.

Yet Duffy's not upset at being left behind while the big names train this week in Italy ahead of Monday's game in Hungary and then that Euro 2012 opener against Croatia on Sunday week.

"I can't have any complaints about not going to the Euros. I wasn't really anywhere near the squad at the end and I probably didn't deserve to go," Duffy told the Evening Herald.

"It was nice to be in Dublin with the squad for the game in February. It was a great boost to my confidence. Being with the Irish squad, it's what you dream about when you're a kid, so it was a massive honour for me to be there, but the squad who played in the qualifiers are the ones who deserved to go.

"I haven't played anywhere near enough games. I didn't play a Premier League game since January and I only had a couple of reserve games after that. It was a strange season as it went on for so long, but I didn't get to play much in the second half of the season," added Duffy, who has decided not to go to Poland as a punter, as some Irish players are planning to do.

"I'm not going to travel. I just plan to rest and recover over the summer and get ready for next season. I'll just watch the games at home in Derry with the family."

The 20-year-old spent the first half of last season on loan to Scunthorpe United and impressed in a 19-game spell but was then recalled to Everton by David Moyes.

He made his Premier League debut in a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham and made five appearances in less than a month for an injury-hit Everton side. However, Duffy was then pushed back down the pecking order when players returned from injury and the African Cup of Nations.

"It's a big season for me with Everton next season," he says. "I will go back there for pre-season and see how that goes, but I do know that I want to be playing first team football next year."

Duffy manned the Irish defence for Monday's U21 friendly against Denmark in Dublin, a disappointing 2-1 defeat, but the Everton man says he's not too concerned about the result.

"We want to win every game we play with Ireland. We have a real winning mentality in this squad so it's not that we're happy with the result, but that friendly was all about getting match fit for the Italy match," says Duffy.

"It was a strange game against Denmark. We were defensively okay but conceded two goals from set pieces, a free kick and a penalty. Denmark didn't hurt us all that much or cut us open at any stage. I think they only had one real chance from play.

"We all looked a bit rusty -- you could see that in the game. It's been something like seven months since the last U21 game and none of the lads have had a club game for a good few weeks now," added Duffy, one of four Derry-born players on duty with the Republic this week as Darron Gibson and James McClean are in Italy with the senior panel while Duffy and new recruit Eunan O'Kane played for the U21s against Denmark.

"We just needed to get a match in before the qualifier against Italy next week. From my point of view it was my first game in about six weeks so I needed to get a match in.

"There has been a lot of hanging around since the club season finished. I was back home in Derry for a few weeks, lying about doing nothing for most of the time, so it was good to get to Dublin with the U21 squad here and get back training.

"We were all a bit tired after the game on Monday but we had Tuesday off and got back to work in training then to get ready for the Italy match."