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Duffy stunned and proud to receive Northern Ireland call

By Laure James

Published 01/09/2016

Shock: Michael Duffy had been expecting a place in the U21s
Shock: Michael Duffy had been expecting a place in the U21s

Michael Duffy has revealed he was targeting a spot in the Northern Ireland Under-21 squad, and was "over the moon" when he was summoned to join Michael O'Neill's senior side for the trip to the Czech Republic.

The Dundee winger, on loan from Celtic, had hoped that regular football and a string of solid performances would help shoehorn him in among Jim Magilton's young recruits.

But the ex-Derry City ace's talent hadn't gone unnoticed at the top level and he was drafted in for Sunday's opening 2018 World Cup qualifier in Prague.

"I was a bit shocked because I knew the Under-21 squad was going to be announced so I was looking out for that," Duffy explained. "I didn't even think that I could be involved for the senior team at this stage.

"All I was thinking about was the season at Dundee and hoping that was good enough to get me into the Under-21 squad.

"But when the email came in to say I'd been called into the senior squad by Michael O'Neill, I was over the moon. My family are really happy too and they are buzzing for me.

"There are quite a few people from Derry who have been in the Northern Ireland squad in recent times and that has always given me motivation."

Duffy spent his summer soaking up every ounce of green and white action at Euro 2016, and now has his chance to impress.

"I watched nearly all the Euros and certainly every Northern Ireland game. There's no way I could have imagined at that stage I'd be in the first squad after the tournament but it was something I had hoped for further down the line," he said.

"It hadn't entered my mind that it was something which was possible so soon, so it was a big shock but a really good one.

"I'm sure there are a lot of Northern Ireland fans who don't know anything about me. I class myself as a pacey winger but hopefully they get to see me in the months to come."

Intelligent and measured, Duffy is keen to settle in quickly, particularly as he already has connections with some younger stars.

"I've played with Paddy McNair a few times with the Under-21s and I sort of know Shane Ferguson, who is from Derry as well," he added. "I've played against Liam Boyce this year but I'd say they are the only three I know.

"I'm going for the experience and to learn but I want to show what I can offer and hopefully keep my place in the squad.

"Celtic wanted me to go out and get game time and try to impress. If I can do that, it is going to make the transition much easier when I go back to Celtic and hopefully my long-term career will be there.

"But I'm not going to get too ahead of myself; I want to do well for Dundee and see where it takes me and hopefully I can learn a lot from this week with Northern Ireland."

Belfast Telegraph

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