Tuesday 12 December 2017

Duff driven by Euros progress not 100-cap club

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

DAMIEN DUFF is sick of being reminded that he will join the 100-cap club if he plays next Monday's friendly with Hungary and all three of Ireland's Euro 2012 group games.

The experienced Irish winger would prefer if people talked about the prospect of reaching the quarter-finals rather than his own personal landmark.

Duff prefers to shy away from the limelight, and rarely does media interviews, but he did stop after training in Montecatini yesterday.

However, the Fulham man was keen to talk about the collective, instead of discussing the prospect of becoming the fifth Irish centurion -- Shay Given, Kevin Kilbane, Steve Staunton and Robbie Keane are the others.

"I suppose when you get there and get close to it, you want to get there," he said.

"But, look, I have never really been thinking about it to be honest. It would be a nice goal and a nice feat to do, but points on the board are more important than caps.

"I don't even want to talk about it. I want to get points on the board and get through and do well. That's all I'm thinking about at the minute."

Indeed, Duff hopes that Ireland can progress in the same manner that Brian Kerr's U-20 Malaysian marvels did back in 1997.

They reached the semi-finals in that competition, with Duff the stand-out player. He is drawing on that experience, as well as the Irish exploits in Korea and Japan 10 years ago.

"We have always done well in major championships at senior level, but if you go underage and think back to the U-20 World Cup, that's my line of thinking, and hopefully we can carry on that trend."

Duff is 33 now, and Trapattoni is mindful of a player who has suffered desperate luck with injuries around international windows. But the Dubliner says he is feeling sharp.

"I feel better as the season has gone on," he stressed, "And it's thanks to the medical team at Fulham. They are unbelievable. I'm feeling younger.

"The preparations have gone well. There are no real injury worries, and everyone looks fit and sharp, so I'm just looking forward to it now."

Irish Independent

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