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Saturday 21 October 2017

Duffy tough on errors

Ireland defender keen to cut out mistakes and prove himself at football’s elite levels

Shane Duffy aims to improve his game as he seeks to take his career to the next level with Ireland and Brighton, revealing he got “a slap on the head” from Ireland boss Martin O’Neill after his mistake against Moldova last October. Photo: Sportsfile
Shane Duffy aims to improve his game as he seeks to take his career to the next level with Ireland and Brighton, revealing he got “a slap on the head” from Ireland boss Martin O’Neill after his mistake against Moldova last October. Photo: Sportsfile

In his own words, a slip by Shane Duffy, which cost Ireland a goal in the World Cup qualifier in Moldova, earned the defender "a slap on the head" from boss Martin O'Neill.

And with Sunday's vital World Cup tie at home to Austria looming, where a slip-up by Ireland could let the Austrians back into the race, Duffy says he's determined to cut out the errors in his game.

With his place almost cemented in the Ireland back four and a Premier League campaign to come with newly-promoted Brighton, the 25-year-old is playing in the big leagues now, where mistakes can be costly.

Ousted

Duffy found that out, to his cost, when an unprecedented run of bad luck at Blackburn Rovers (a string of own goals, bookings and red cards) saw him ousted from the club and Duffy, unfairly, remains a hate figure for a section of the Rovers support.

The loss of Marko Arnautovic, to suspension, deprives Austria of one of their main attacking foils for Sunday but the Austrians have punished Ireland before, especially in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, and Duffy knows he needs to stop making mistakes.

Martin O'Neill. Photo: Sportsfile
Martin O'Neill. Photo: Sportsfile

"I can still get better," says the Derry native.

"I'm a bit inconsistent, and next year in the Premier League will help me a lot. I want to be consistent at this level and I know I've made some mistakes so I want to get that out of my game. I'm new to it, just 10 games and I'll get there."

It's often said that a player can't truly understand the demands of international football until he reached the 15-cap mark and Duffy admits it's not easy.

"I think it's tough. Every player would say they want to play their best every game they play. It's difficult. You've just got to be consistent. Maybe the more you play at this level helps. I feel a lot more comfortable than I did in my first game," he says.

"It's just coming with a bit of comfort knowing you can play at this level. If you're playing well at your club, I think it brings the best out of you. Maybe some players don't need it. They can come with poor club form and play well here but other players are different.

"You get the best out of yourself if you are confident, but I don't really depend on confidence. I give everything when I play.

Shane Duffy, pictured left, insists last week’s friendly against Mexico in New Jersey was a worthwhile exercise. Photo: Sportsfile
Shane Duffy, pictured left, insists last week’s friendly against Mexico in New Jersey was a worthwhile exercise. Photo: Sportsfile

"If I'm not playing well for my club , or if I'm not playing well for Ireland, I'm still going to give everything. That's just the kind of player I am."

It's not quite a video nasty, as these things were known as back in the VHS days, but last week's friendly against Mexico was not pleasing on the eye. Duffy, however, still insisted on re-watching the game and his part in Ireland's downfall in that poor 3-1 loss, hoping to pick up some tips which he could bring into the Uruguay game (job done as Duffy was much-improved) and Sunday's test with Austria.

"Yeah, I watched back the Mexico game and I wasn't happy with some things, I was happy with others. I always watch matches back because if you don't, you're not going to learn."

The three-man defence used against Mexico has been ditched and it will be a flat back four on Sunday, and Duffy feels that the follow-up win over Uruguay had left the squad well-placed to face Austria.

"The Mexican game was brilliant for us purely because a lot of players didn't play for a while. A new formation was thrown in there and we were up against a very good team. It was brilliant for us and it helped us for that game against Uruguay and it's going to help us for the Austria game," says the ex-Everton man.

"The lads have got two games under their belt, which you would do in club during the season if you were going into the qualifiers. We can be happy with that preparation.

"It's always good for the confidence when you win a game at any level. If we didn't win on Sunday, the camp would have been the same. We've been eyeing this Austria game Austria all along, this is the one we want to win."

Duffy admits that Sunday could be key for both sides, potentially fatal for Austria if they lose. "You never know. You can never write anyone off. For our point of view, a win will be a massive step to where we want to be and then we have some massive games in September," he says.

"You can thrive off the fans. We're a threat and teams don't like coming here to play us. Austria will know they're going to be in a tough game. They know they're not going to come here and walk over us."

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