Martinez praises the progress of loaned-out Duffy
EVERTON boss Roberto Martinez believes that a loan spell in the Championship is bringing out the best in Irish defender Shane Duffy.
The 21-year-old joined Yeovil Town on loan in September and has clocked up seven appearances for the Glovers, who are struggling at the bottom of the Championship table.
Duffy, who captained Ireland's U21s in their 5-2 win over the Faroe Islands yesterday, sought the loan move in frustration at the lack of opportunities at Goodison Park but Martinez has been keeping an eye on the Derry native. "The Championship is exactly what Shane needed and he's trying things, experimenting and bringing real leadership qualities into the team. He's been performing at a real high standard," Martinez said.
Meanwhile, another Derry-born player who is in the Championship this season, Bournemouth prospect Eunan O'Kane, hopes that a call-up to the Irish senior squad could come his way after he was put on stand-by for the games against Latvia and Poland.
O'Kane, 23, won the last of his five U21 caps in a win over Italy last year but he has not been forgotten about by the Ireland set-up as Noel King, who managed O'Kane at U21 level, included him in the 40-strong provisional squad for the two friendly games under Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane, and while the Cherries midfielder was left out as the squad was cut to 27, he was pleased to get the initial call.
"It was good to be put on stand-by and was better than not being involved at all. I hope to get capped sometime in the future and it is nice to know I am in their thoughts," said O'Kane. "If I can keep putting in performances and playing well at this level, hopefully, my chance will come.
"Once Martin O'Neill's name had been mentioned for the position, I don't think there was any surprise when he got the job. I think the biggest shock was Roy Keane going with him because everyone had seen him as a possible candidate.
"I think it will be great for the country as a whole and Roy Keane's influence will raise everyone's spirits.
"I don't think anyone can question Martin O'Neill's credentials as a manager. Everywhere he has been, he has done well and, hopefully, he will be able to recreate that in international games."