'He's got everything' - Shane Duffy keen to help Declan Rice find his feet at international level
SHANE Duffy admits it will be tough for the Republic of Ireland players to watch Denmark play in the World Cup finals in June, knowing that Martin O'Neill's side had missed the boat.
But the Brighton defender, named last week as Ireland's player of the year for 2017, is upbeat about the future of players like Declan Rice as O'Neill plans to try out new faces in Friday's friendly with Turkey in Antalya.
"It’s a new campaign, with new players and we’ve got friendlies and the games against Wales and Denmark again. It will be a tough watch, the World Cup, knowing we were so close. That’s football, you have got to get it behind you and go again," Duffy said after the squad's training session in Turkey today.
“That's the hard part to agree with because you feel you are better than them, but over the two legs, they proved that they were."
The Irish squad for Friday's game is packed with defenders, 11 of the 25-strong panel playing in defence, and that friendly is a chance for O'Neill to possibly play teenager Declan Rice alongside Duffy.
"There are a few centre-halves the manager could pick. He has so much potential, it's great to have him on board. He’s going push you. He’s only a baby, like," Duffy joked.
"I remember being that age, it feels an age away and makes me feel a bit old, which I’m not. He is a great player, we have such high hopes for him. He’s got everything. The more he plays, he’s going to get better.
"For me, the more times I put the jersey on I feel more ready to play. I’ll help Declan and the lads as much as I can," added Duffy, enjoying a good spell at club level with Brighton.
"It’s been enjoyable. It has been tough at times, we’ve had tough periods and good ones. We need a couple of wins to get over the line
and we’ll be there," he says.
"The manager is great, he keeps everyone on their toes. He never lets us get ahead of ourselves, or gets too down when we lose. It’s a tough league and I am happy with my performances."