Thursday, January 27, 2011

Duffy Named in Ireland U21 Squad

19 year old Everton defender Shane Duffy has been named in Noel King's 19-man under-21 squad for the upcoming friendly against Cyprus on February 9th 2011.

After featuring strongly in Paul Doolin's under-19 team during the European Championships qualification, Duffy now makes the step-up to under-21 level for the FAI.

Republic of Ireland under-21 squad (for international friendly v Cyprus, Larnaca, February 9th): Ritchie Branagan (Bury), Ian McLoughlin (Ipswich Town), Gavin Gunning (Blackburn Rovers), Shane Duffy (Everton), Rob Kiernan (Watford), Mark Connolly (Bolton Wanderers), Richie Towell (Hibernian), Johnny Dunleavy (Barnet, on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), Shane O’Connor (Ipswich Town), James McCarthy (Wigan Athletic), Conor Clifford (Chelsea), Conor Hourihane (Ipswich Town), Aaron Doran (Inverness CT, on loan Blackburn Rovers), Jamie Devitt (Hull City), Conor Doyle (Derby County), Robbie Brady (Manchester United), James Collins (Shrewsbury Town, on loan from Aston Villa), Mikey Collins (APEP, Cyprus), Robbie Gibbons (Alki Larnaca, Cyprus).

Stand-by List: Lanre Oyebanjo (Histon), Damien McCrory (Dagenham & Redbridge), Enda Stevens (Shamrock Rovers), Daniel Kearns (Dundalk), Gearoid Morrissey (Cork City), Jeff Hendrick (Derby County), Ronan Murray (Ipswich Town), Sean Scannell (Crystal Palace), Joe Mason (Plymouth Argyle), Paddy Madden (Bohemians).

Source: Irish Times

Thursday, January 6, 2011

When Conservatism Fails, What Next?

This article of mine appeared in In it, I question the merits of conservatism with regard to the recent "defensive crisis" that Everton has been facing.


On Monday 3rd January, rumours were rife that Everton manager David Moyes had handed in his resignation. Such a development would, perhaps, not have been much of a surprise; with twenty games played Everton, a team with lofty aspirations of a European finish, sat 13th in the table, with a mere 22 points. Added to this fact, there had been speculation of problems in the dressing room–former stalwart, Joseph Yobo, was loaned to Fenerbache, while new players Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Johnny Heitinga, who collectively cost around £15 million, have struggled to get into the Everton first team, fuelling rumours that they may be seeking moves elsewhere.

In the transfer market, Moyes has been financially restricted, meaning that he has been unable to strengthen his squad with established players and instead has been deploying players in unfamiliar positions. Unsurprisingly, amid these rumours and the accompanying flurry of bets, the bookmakers slashed the odds on Moyes leaving Everton. But Moyes did not resign.

There is a tendency in such times of uncertainty for managers to panic and to become ultra conservative. They will stick with what has worked in the past and with the players who have proven that they can deliver, regardless of their form. David Moyes is no different and fans will usually understand the rationale. However, there is a strong case to be made against Moyes’s conservative approach, with particular regard to his recent team selections. With only three senior centre halves in the first team squad and two of them carrying injuries, it seemed as though David Moyes was facing a problem with his defence.

Johnny Heitinga has had a recurring knee injury, while Phil Jagielka recently injured his thigh and with Joseph Yobo on loan at Fenerbache, Sylvain Distin was the only fit centre half – at least, according to David Moyes. It is quite obvious, from the manner in which Moyes has been talking about his “defensive crisis”, that the likes of Shane Duffy and Shkodran Mustafi, who are widely considered to be two of the most promising centre backs in Europe, do not even enter the picture when it comes to the first team. For example, when Johnny Heitinga and Phil Jagielka sustained injuries in late December, Moyes expressed the view that he had effectively no cover for centre half:

I'm not sure about Jags, we are hoping he might not be out too long. He is certainly a doubt for the Birmingham game, as is Johnny Heitinga, so we could have a problem at centre half.
(, 23.12.10)

The Boxing Day game against Birmingham was postponed, but in the following fixture against West Ham on the 28th, Shane Duffy was included in the match squad, leading fans to think that Moyes was ready to take a chance. But Duffy started on the bench and full back Tony Hibbert, who stands at 5’8”, started alongside Sylvain Distin at centre half. Hibbert had previously lined out at centre half alongside then 17 year old Shane Duffy in the Europa League in games against AEK Athens and BATE Borisov and later played at centre half against Tottenham Hotspur, performing reasonably well. Nevertheless, the game against West Ham finished 1-1, and Tony Hibbert scored an own goal.

In the next game on January 1st, against Stoke, Phil Jagielka, who had previously been ruled out with a long-term thigh injury, remarkably started the game. David Moyes cited Tony Hibbert’s small stature as the reason he decided to play an unfit Jagielka:

We needed him because otherwise we would have had to come here with Tony Hibbert at centre-half which against their size would have been really difficult.
(Liverpool Daily Post, 3.11.1)

If David Moyes preferred to have a player who could win headers against Stoke, he could have played the fully fit 6’4” Shane Duffy, who has shown both at international and club level that he is immensely strong in the air, over a half fit Jagielka or an out-of-position Tony Hibbert – but Duffy didn’t even make the bench. The Stoke game finished in a 2-0 defeat, with Phil Jagielka scoring an own goal and the question that has been on every Everton fan’s lips is “Why not play Shane Duffy?”.

There are a number of possible reasons why Moyes is reticent about playing Duffy. Having only just turned 19, he lacks crucial competitive experience and according to Alan Stubbs, he has only just found the form and fitness levels that he was at prior to the life-threatening injury he sustained in May. One can understand why a manager would be uneasy about throwing the kid in at the proverbial deep end.

However, despite his age Duffy has shown that he is more than capable of competing at a high level. He made his competitive debut at the age of 17 when he replaced Sylvain Distin against AEK Athens in a Europa League tie, helping Everton to a crucial victory. And a few weeks later, he gave a Man-of-the-Match performance against BATE Borisov, with former Scotland international Pat Nevin highlighting the young defender’s impressive ability to read the game. Added to that, the young Irishman has an abundance of under-age international honours and has already trained with the senior Ireland team. It is no wonder that many Everton fans would like to see Shane Duffy given the chance at centre back ahead of an injured Phil Jagielka or Tony Hibbert.

Then there is Shkodran Mustafi, a highly rated young defender who has forged a formidable partnership with Shane Duffy at the heart of the Everton reserve and youth defence, even helping Neil Dewsnip’s academy team to a remarkable thirteen clean sheets last season. Everton signed the Germany U-19 international from Hamburg, for a relatively substantial fee and it was reported that Hamburg were extremely disappointed to see the young defender leave.

Surely, even in times of crisis, either Duffy or Mustafi should be seen as better options than unfit or out-of-position players? Indeed, if the consequence of sticking with such an attitude yields two own goals and two poor results, when exactly is the right time for Moyes to take a chance?

A perfect example of how a departure (albeit enforced) from conservatism can prove successful came just days after the Stoke game, when Everton beat Tottenham 2-1. With Tim Cahill on international duty, Moyes abandoned his usual 4-5-1 formation and adopted a 4-4-2 formation, with Jermaine Beckford and Luis Saha up front. Saha scored a goal in the opening minutes and Séamus Coleman popped up with another goal to clinch victory. The success of Coleman (and indeed Beckford) is another enduring testament to the rewards of taking chances with talented, if unproven, players. With the transfer window now open again, and Moyes keen to give his prospects loan moves, perhaps the likes of Duffy, Baxter and Mustafi will get their chance to impress potential suitors in the upcoming game against Scunthorpe in the FA Cup.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Duffy Set for Preston?

Darren Ferguson, manager of Preston N.E.

It appears that David Moyes may have found the right club for his starlet Shane Duffy to join on loan.

Indeed, it has emerged that Darren Ferguson, who is currently the manager of David Moyes' former club Preston, is interested in taking the central defender on loan.

The move could potentially see 18 year old Duffy link up with fellow Ireland international, Sean St. Ledger. St. Ledger, however, has been linked with a move out of Deepdale, with Aston Villa and Liverpool reported to be interested and it is possible that Ferguson views Duffy as a long-term replacement.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Duffy Must Go on Loan

Shane Duffy in action against BATE Borisov in the Europa League

Following the recent revelation that David Moyes is keen to send promising defender Shane Duffy on loan, it is the opinion of this blog that it must transpire sooner, rather than later.

Having fully recovered from the life-threatening injury he suffered in May with the Irish senior team, 18 year old Shane Duffy has made tremendous strides. He is once again captaining Alan Stubbs' Everton reserve team and he played an influential role in Ireland's recent U19 UEFA qualifying campaign. Remarkably, he was even included on the first-team bench for the recent game against Tottenham Hotspur, with Moyes suggesting that he could have come on to neutralise the threat posed by Peter Crouch.

Such progress is undeniably testament to Duffy's strength of character. Indeed, in the aftermath of the injury, doctors were predicting that it would be Christmas before the towering defender would play again, but Duffy amazingly defied the odds, playing his first full game in a pre-season friendly against Sligo Rovers on August 8 - just thirteen weeks after he had undergone emergency surgery in the Mater Hospital.

It is now November and since making his return in August, Duffy has played a mere six reserve games, along with three international games with Paul Doolin's Ireland U19 team. The return to fitness of the majority of Everton's first team, along with the solid partnership formed by Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin, means that Duffy's chances of first team action are becoming increasingly limited and for a promising young player like Duffy, time on the pitch is absolutely crucial to the development of his game.

When David Moyes made the decision to let his former captain Joseph Yobo go on loan to Fenerbahçe at the beginning of the season, it seemed as though Duffy had moved up in the ranks. Furthermore, it emerged that Moyes had rejected a bid from League Two outfit Northampton Town to take Duffy on loan, giving the distinct impression that he wanted to keep Duffy around as immediate back-up. However, now that Moyes has publicly announced his desire to let his young star gain some valuable experience, clubs will be lining up to take the Irishman. Indeed, considering that Moyes actually rejected an offer from Northampton, it seems that the 'right club', must be one of a higher standard, perhaps Championship or League One level.

Everton reserves will travel to London on Monday (8th November) to face off against Arsenal reserves. The game is certain to be a stern test for Duffy and it provides scouts with a perfect opportunity to watch the centre-half in action against relatively tough opposition.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Moyes Contemplates Sending Duffy on Loan

Everton manager David Moyes has indicated his desire to send promising centre-half, Shane Duffy, on loan. The 18 year old Irish defender has experienced his fair share of drama despite his youth and Moyes is keen to send the player on loan, now that he has fully recovered from his life-threatening injury, in order to further his education as a footballer. Moyes said:
“I'd like to put Shane out on loan. We've been keeping an eye on him at first (since his injury) and keeping him indoors. He's very good in the air though, and could have come on against Crouch (at White Hart Lane). If we find the right club he could go on loan.”
Interestingly, Moyes recently rejected an offer from League Two outfit Northampton Town to take Duffy on loan, which suggests that Moyes would prefer Duffy to experience a higher standard of football. Nevertheless, any such move is sure to be tremendously benficial to the promising young defender and both Ireland and Everton fans will be paying close attention to any potential move.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Duffy Included in Ireland U19 squad for UEFA Qualifiers

Young Everton defender, Shane Duffy, has been included in the Ireland U19 squad for their upcoming UEFA Qualifying games.

The call-up marks a return to international action for Duffy following the freak injury he sustained in May with the Irish senior squad and he is in line to make his first competitive appearance for Ireland since switching to the FAI from the IFA.

The 18 year-old is included in a squad which also contains Mark O'Brien, the young Derby County defender, who has made a full recovery from his recent heart surgery, and a number of domestically based players, including his fellow Derry-man, Patrick McEleney.

Republic of Ireland U19 squad:
  • Sean Mc Dermott (Arsenal)
  • Aaron McCarey (Wolves)
  • Declan Walker (Wrexham)
  • John Egan (Sunderland)
  • Anthony O'Connor (Blackburn Rovers)
  • Sean McGinty (Manchester United)
  • Mark O'Brien (Derby County)
  • SHANE DUFFY (Everton)
  • Carl McHugh (Reading)
  • Daryl Horgan (Salthill Devon)
  • Shane Byrne (Leicester City)
  • Stephen McDonnell (Dundalk)
  • Jeff Hendrick (Derby County)
  • Liam Irwin (Bolton Wanderers)
  • Craig Walsh (Longford Town)
  • Patrick McEleney (Derry City)
  • Robbie Brady (Manchester United)
  • Michael Rafter (Colchester United)
UEFA U19 Championship first phase qualifiers:

Thursday October 7 (4pm)
Republic of Ireland v Luxembourg, Georgi Benkovski, Teteven
Saturday October 9 (4pm)
Republic of Ireland v Bulgaria, Georgi Benkovski, Teteven
Tuesday October 12 (4pm)
Serbia v Republic of Ireland, Georgi Benkovski, Teteven.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Derry and District youth to International footballer

Duffy's progression as a footballer can only be described as a rocket-fuelled ascension, since the word 'meteoric' can have connotations of a type of swift gravitational descent. The young Derry-man has gone from playing in his local gaelic and soccer youth teams to playing with and against top professional footballers in the space of 2 years. Add to that the fact he's still only 17 and the achievement becomes all the more astonishing.His first season with Everton was one which contained events which, for some, only happen over a long career.
Season 2008/2009
Duffy arrived at Finch Farm in the Summer of 2008 to pursue his dream of becoming a professional footballer. With high hopes and determination, Duffy was compelled by his dream to work hard and improve his game. Despite being only 16, Duffy enjoyed the advantages of being a monstrous 6'4"
defender. However, as the new arrival, he not only had to prove himself to his coaches, but also to his team-mates and he quickly made his presence felt in the Everton under-18 squad (a squad which included José Baxter and James Wallace). However, shortly after breaking into the team, Duffy suffered a horrendous injury which appeared to threaten his chances at the club. A hefty last-ditch challenge from Duffy saw him fracture his hip bone and this ruled him out for approximately 6 weeks. "It was so scary. I thought I'd broken my back", remarked Duffy in retrospect. Injuries can have a severely detrimental effect on a player's confidence and certainly tests their will, but Duffy showed no signs of being deflated as he returned to action and even headed the winner in the under-18 Merseyside derby versus Liverpool. Duffy continued to shine for the under-18s, winning the Academy Player of the Month award for January and he was even promoted to the reserve side for some games toward the end of the season. In addition to this, Duffy's international career began to take tremendous strides and his performances, both domestically and internationally, caught the attention of Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington and his coach Steve Beaglehole, who propelled Duffy through the ranks from under-17 to under-19 to B level and eventually into the senior national squad, despite still only being 17. Worthington has since admitted that his decision to promote Duffy to the senior squad was, in effect, an attempt to quell any interest in the young defender from the Republic of Ireland national team, whom Duffy is also completely eligible to play for.

Season 2009/2010

Duffy's second season with the 'Toffees' has seen him play for the first-team in pre-season friendlies. A combination of injuries and lack of transfer funds meant that Everton were very weak i
n defence and David Moyes felt that Duffy had impressed sufficiently in training to merit a place in the team. He played for 90 minutes in their 2-1 defeat to Bury, for 60 minutes in the 4-1 defeat of Rochdale (where he scored the opener) and for the final half hour in the 2-1 defeat to Blackpool (where he noticeably settled the defence). Duffy has featured in the squad for Everton's opening 5 games of the 2009/2010 season and was handed his first under-21 cap for Northern Ireland in a 2-1 defeat to Portugal. The youngster played 90 minutes and confidently slotted home a consolation penalty in the game:

Duffy (5) scores penalty against Portugal
More to follow