Shane Duffy has been an ever present for Norwich City this season. Alamy Stock Photo

Shane Duffy in contention for Euro recall against France and Netherlands

Defender back in Stephen Kenny’s thinking as Ireland manager assesses options for upcoming qualifiers.

SHANE DUFFY HAS played his way back into contention for a recall to the Republic of Ireland squad for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers.

It has proven to be a timely return to form for an experienced figure ahead of the trip to France on 7 September followed by the visit of Netherlands to Aviva Stadium three days later.

Captain Seamus Coleman confirmed earlier this week that it will be another six to eight weeks before he is likely to return while Matt Doherty is on the fringes despite returning to Wolverhampton Wanderers following his abrupt spell in Spain with Atletico Madrid.

Dara O’Shea, John Egan and Nathan Collins are still set to make up the first-choice back three given all are in favour at Premier League level with Burnley, Sheffield United and Brentford, respectively.

Left wing back Enda Stevens is another who has returned to fitness and form, and should make it four consecutive 90 minutes for Stoke City when they face Millwall today.

The task ahead in Group B is a daunting one given Ireland have three points from their opening three games, but the possible return of a personality like Duffy could prove to be a boost. His move to Norwich City has been just the tonic, the 31-year-old playing every minute of their opening three Championship games as well as the EFL Cup tie with Queens Park Rangers.

The French and Dutch are, of course, prospects on a different level, but Duffy’s form has not gone unnoticed with Stephen Kenny. He is now in the mix to be selected by the Ireland manager when he names his squad next Thursday for the double header.

Kenny has not called upon Duffy to start for more than a year. The Derry native’s last appearance for Ireland was the 3-0 win over Scotland in June 2022. Incidentally, it just so happens that two of the main protagonists in attack from that victory will likely be absent next month.

Michael Obafemi, who scored twice, is definitely ruled out due to a hamstring injury, and there remain doubts about whether Troy Parrott will warrant a call-up this time around given his loan move from Tottenham Hotspur to Dutch Eredivisie side Excelsior Rotterdam came so late in the window.

Sinclair Armstrong has led the front line for QPR with a blend of strength, awareness and pace to set pulses racing in the Championship, but the 20-year-old will remain part of Jim Crawford’s U21 set-up.

The resurgence of Aaron Connolly appears to have come too soon to force his way into Kenny’s plans.

stephen-kenny Ireland boss Stephen Kenny. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

The 23-year-old has scored three goals so far this term but all of his appearances have come off the bench as on-loan Manchester City striker Liam Delap has been preferred to lead the line. It was the same last night, the Galwegian replacing Delap for the last half an hour of the 1-1 draw with Bristol City.

Kenny was in attendance, a fixture with plenty of added interest given Sean McLoughlin started in defence for the hosts and the visitors had Max O’Leary in goal, Jason Knight in midfield and Mark Sykes in attack.

The form of Preston striker Will Keane, who was not in the most recent squad for the qualifiers in June, has put him back under consideration for this squad. Not just because of his two goals in three league games, but playing 90 minutes in each as well as the EFL Cup tie with Salford City.

A spark in attack will need to be found somewhere given Celtic’s Mikey Johnston is set for a prolonged period on the sidelines with a back injury. Ireland are still waiting on definitive news about the availability of James McClean (knee) and Will Smallbone (ankle) before a decision can be made on that front.

For Duffy, a combination of factors led to that absence from the international scene since being an unused substitute last September for the Nations League double header with Scotland and Armenia.

There were personal issues the following November as well being cut adrift by Brighton and a disastrous loan spell at Fulham, during which time he barely played.

He has excelled since signing for the Championship club and his experience, as well as leadership, is something Kenny and his staff value. Norwich are away to Huddersfield Town this afternoon and are also in action in the EFL Cup second round when they travel to face Bristol.

will-keane Will Keane (left) is in contention because of his form while Andrew Omobamidele (right) may start in the EFL Cup on Tuesday. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Those Tuesday games will cap the end of a rigorous few days of travelling for Kenny and his assistants, Keith Andrews, John O’Shea and Stephen Rice, who will be covering their bases throughout England, and hoping to see Doherty make his first appearance of the season at home to Blackpool.

Duffy’s teammates at Norwich, Adam Idah and Andrew Omobamidele, have not started a league game as of yet and their EFL Cup tie with Bristol may be an opportune time to assess their sharpness.

The same goes for Ipswich Town midfielder Jack Taylor, who only managed an 89th-minute sub appearance in the Championship so far, but is likely to start when they face Reading away in the cup on Tuesday.

Then come any required tweaks and decisions to be made.

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