Reward for Duffy with new Brighton contract
Shane Duffy has committed his future to Brighton by signing a new four-year contract that will keep him at the club until 2021.
The Derry defender was signed by Chris Hughton 12 months ago after a fraught end to his time with Blackburn but he regrouped to become an important part of their successful promotion challenge.
Duffy is also first choice with Ireland boss Martin O'Neill with the 25-year-old ex-Everton youth in a good place after a rocky spell when he initially left Goodison Park.
His club colleagues Lewis Dunk and Anthony Knockaert have also penned long-term contracts with Hughton happy to make a statement by tying them down.
"Lewis, Shane and Anthony were key members of our promotion-winning side last season, and I fully expect them to be important members of the team once again this season," he said.
"They're relishing the step up to the new level and they each have the capability to perform and excel in the Premier League - and they have certainly earned these new deals with their performances on the pitch."
Meanwhile, new Ireland recruit Scott Hogan faces a spell on the sidelines after damaging his ankle in Tuesday's loss to Reading in front of the watching O'Neill.
Villa boss Steve Bruce is frustrated by another setback for a player who has struggled to hit top form since joining from Brentford last January. He has scored just twice for his new employers.
"It makes it difficult for him to get a run to get up to speed. It's frustrating and it's happened again," said Bruce.
"I think he's tweaked his ankle, he's got a problem with it again. It's disappointing."
Hogan is still in the process of gaining clearance to play for Ireland and it's unlikely to come through for next month's double-header against Georgia and Serbia.
Back at home, Bray Wanderers and Sligo Rovers have learned the identity of their opponents in the first round of the Irn-Bru Cup.
This is an enlarged version of the cup competition for Scottish lower-league teams which has been expanded to include U-20 sides from the SPL and participants from Northern Ireland, Wales and the League of Ireland.
Bray and Sligo qualified by virtue of finishing fifth and sixth in the domestic league last term but both sides have other things on their mind at the moment.
Sligo did at least land a home draw against Falkirk Bairns, Falkirk's U-20 team.
Bray will have to travel to face Scottish League Two side Elgin City. The ties are due to take place on September 2.