Ryan Byrne/INPHO Ireland international Shane Duffy.
Shane Duffy in danger of losing place in Ireland squad for start of Euro qualifiers
International boss Stephen Kenny admits he has “a lot to consider” as a result of the Fulham defender’s lack of action.

STEPHEN KENNY ADMITS he has “a lot to consider” when deciding whether to include Shane Duffy in the Ireland squad for the start of the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

The 31-year-old centre back has made just six appearances with Fulham this season – one since the start of 2023 – and was in contact with the international manager regarding the situation via text last week.

Kenny opted to leave Duffy out of the starting XI for the Nations League clash with Scotland last September as Nathan Collins, John Egan and Dara O’Shea were preferred in the back three.

The latter pair have been regulars in the Championship for Sheffield United and West Brom, respectively, while Collins came on a second-half substitute yesterday having lost his place in the Wolves side over the last month.

Personal reasons meant Duffy was not part of the squad for the friendly double header with Norway and Malta in November, with Kenny backing the player at the time. “He’s in the prime of his career, a 30-year-old centre-back, so when he gets playing regular football, he’ll excel again.”

However, Fulham have been one of the surprise packages following promotion to the Premier League this season and Marco Silva has them pushing for a European place.

They are currently seventh, level on points with Liverpool, just six points off the Champions League places.

Duffy’s four league appearances have all come as an 89th minute substitute and while his loan move from Brighton to Craven Cottage was made permanent at the end of the January transfer window, it was only on a contract until the end of this campaign.

stephen-kenny-celebrates-after-the-game-with-shane-duffy Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Stephen Kenny hugs Shane Duffy. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

The deal was struck to allow Fulham sign another defender on loan, Cedric Soares from Arsenal, as rules state a club can only have two players from another Premier League rival – Daniel James was already brought in temporarily from Leeds.

When it was put to the Ireland manager that Duffy currently doesn’t give any great reason to pick him, Kenny admitted: “I have a lot to consider. A lot to consider.”

Norwich City’s Andrew Omobamidele has featured 26 times this season but his last three appearances have come from the bench, while Darragh Lenihan has been in fine form and a constant at the back for a Middlesbrough side pushing hard for Premier League promotion under manager Michael Carrick.

Captain Seamus Coleman has also re-established himself in the Everton starting XI under Sean Dyche, meaning Duffy’s situation is a perilous one.

“My take on it is this. At the time (signing for Fulham), on paper he was delighted with the move,” Kenny said. “They had two centre-backs, Tosin [Adarabioyo] and [Tim] Ream, who’d been in the Championship, who were not proven Premier League players.

“He was coming from a situation at Brighton where [Adam] Webster and [Lewis] Dunk were excellent. It was hard to get in there. They paid £20m for Webster.

“Dunk was club captain and had done brilliantly. He had been Dunk’s partner for years, then they bought Webster and he was struggling to play. They had other players as well.

“He went to Fulham and he’s thinking, ‘Right they’ve two defenders who played in the Championship; they’re going to start. They’re unproven at this level. I’ll take my chance. With an injury, I’ll get a chance’. The following week, they signed [Issa] Diop from West Ham for £13m. That meant he was one of four.

I went to see him play against Crawley in the Carabao Cup. They were beaten. It wasn’t good.

“There was talk of a move at Christmas. Fulham had paid a loan fee to Brighton for him. It probably covered his wages. Another club would have to go and negotiate that with Brighton.

“He found himself in a bit of a quandary. He played in the FA Cup against Sunderland, his first proper game of the year. Didn’t play against Leeds the other night. It’s been far from ideal for Shane.”

Fulham have two Premier League games – against Brentford and leaders Arsenal – before Kenny announces the squad to face France in the opening Euro 2024 qualifier in Dublin on 27 March.

They also have a FA Cup quarter final with Manchester United at Old Trafford on 19 March.

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