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Shane not fazed by challenge of Ibra


Shane Duffy

Shane Duffy

Shane Duffy

Before he was tasked with marking the legendary Emilio Butragueno in a vital World Cup qualifier, Mick McCarthy was ruffled at being told by Jack Charlton of all the strengths that the Spanish striker had.

The Ireland defender joked that if he took on board all the info in the dossier on Butragreno there was little point in him playing as the battle was already lost.

The current breed of Ireland defender, or at least Shane Duffy, feels the same way about the talisman who poses the greatest threat to the Republic in Paris this evening.

"You try not to focus on who he is," says Duffy, when asked about how to handle Ztalan Ibrahimovic.

Duffy is a player who only three months ago looked to have no chance of making the 23-man squad but is now in with a realistic chance of starting tonight, having impressed Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane in his friendly appearances.

"A few of the lads have spoken about it but you just don't focus on him. There are other good players in that team, not just him. So don't focus on who it is, just do your basic jobs, try and do your best, try and be aggressive against him. He is a superstar and he does it against the best centre halves in the world, so whoever does play, it's a tough game."

Duffy has yet to play in a competitive international and currently earns his wages in England's second tier, so standing up to the legend that is Zlatan is a challenge. But Duffy feels he has cut his teeth by marking, or trying to mark, players like Gareth Bale in the Premier League (when Duffy was at Everton).

"I remember when Adebayor played for Spurs, he was a big, physical presence, he was at his peak, they had him and Gareth Bale up front, somewhat similar to Zlatan.

"I played against Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane, most of them," says Duffy, who has been linked with Premier League clubs.

"When I play I don't focus on the names, I focus on them as a striker. If you think 'I'm up against Zlatan Ibrahimovic' you sort of change your own game. So you don't do that, you have to be aggressive against him and try to handle him.

"It's what you want to be here for, you want to get to his level and if you are playing against him and doing well, it's a sign that you can push on, for me in my career, anyway. I would be delighted to play against him and try to do my best."