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'Shane Duffy has never let Ireland down...we shouldn’t forget that just because he has had a tough time'

Stephen Kenny has issued a robust message in support of his defender, who has endured a difficult spell at Celtic.

Shane Duffy.
Shane Duffy.
Image: PA

STEPHEN KENNY HAS issued a robust message in support of Shane Duffy, though admits neither he nor anyone else in the Irish squad is undroppable. 

Duffy was today named in Kenny’s 29-man squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers with Serbia and Luxembourg along with the subsequent friendly with Qatar, though he hasn’t played for Celtic in almost five weeks amid a torrid spell at the Scottish club. 

Having committed several high-profile errors in a bad Celtic team, and what was supposed to be a dream spell in Glasgow has curdled into anything but. Duffy has also had personal trauma to deal with following the death of his father, while he has occasionally shared some of the abhorrent social media abuse to which he has been subjected.

The defender has played every minute under Kenny thus far – the only outfield player to do so – has captained the side in Seamus Coleman’s absence and has scored the only goal of Kenny’s eight-game tenure. While admitting nobody in the squad is an automatic starter, Kenny issued a strong message of support for Duffy at a press conference this afternoon. 

“I think it’s fair to say nobody is an automatic starter. I can honestly say there is nobody in the squad who would be an automatic starter, and I have no problem leaving anyone out.

“What I will say about Shane Duffy, we know he has had a tough year at Celtic, he knows he has had a tough year.  He has been a great player, and he has never let Ireland down. Shane Duffy has never let Ireland down. He has played when he’s been injured, he has played three games in six days and travelled twice within that, he puts everything on the line for Ireland continually, and we shouldn’t forget that just because he has had a tough time. 

“He is capable of coming back, he is back training with Celtic and he is in their squad for the match at the weekend. He may not be selected, but he comes back into our squad.” 

Elsewhere, Troy Parrott has been included in the Irish squad, having scored his first goal in senior football in Ipswich’s win last weekend. Kenny is a firm fan of the teenage forward, though admits he is unlikely to start next Wednesday’s game in Serbia. 

“I think it’s fair to say Troy is unlikely to start against Serbia. He has found goals hard to come by since he started playing in the Championship and League One. But one thing he has had is his work-rate has been really exceptional. He gives everything for the team, all the time. We understand why Troy is in the team, we’ve seen it since U15, U16, U17, U19, and U21 – he scored five exceptional games for me in four games – and seen it with our own eyes.

“Nobody gives you anything in life, you have to earn it. Not everything always goes swimmingly, where you come in and hit the ground running, maybe it’s happened for Haaland at Dortmund but it doesn’t happen for many others.  He is finding his way, he has shown a good attitude and I would say he is unlikely to start in Serbia but he is there for the three games and is a valuable member of the squad.”

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Kenny hopes to have Aaron Connolly, Caoimhin Kelleher, and James McClean fit for the games: all three have been included in the squad, and will be assessed when the Irish squad gathers on Sunday. 

Murray Kinsella, Bernard Jackman and Gavan Casey preview Ireland’s game against England and try to figure out where this team is going under Andy Farrell, if anywhere:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Gavin Cooney

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