Belfast Telegraph

Shock snub has Worthington licking sore wounds

By Stuart McKinley

Nigel Worthington last night claimed that Northern Ireland have lost on a ‘very, very, very good player’ after Shane Duffy snubbed a call-up to his senior squad.

Instead the teenage Everton defender has decided to switch to the Republic of Ireland — despite being capped at every level by Northern Ireland outside the full international side.

Worthington wanted to take the Londonderry-born youngster to Albania for next week’s friendly, but when Everton were informed a letter was swiftly sent from Goodison Park to Windsor Avenue stating Duffy’s intentions.

Duffy had been pursued by the Football Association of Ireland for some time and they have now claimed a victory.

“Shane has represented Northern Ireland at every age group right up until seniors, he went to Italy with the squad last year and was the only one to miss out on a cap,” said Worthington.

“Sadly we received a letter from Everton on behalf of Shane Duffy stating that he no longer wants to represent Northern Ireland; he wants to represent the Republic.

“From my point of view it is disappointing because Shane is going to be a very, very, very good player and he is going to be a big loss to us.”

Duffy’s turnaround comes as a major shock as just two months ago he stated when speaking to the Belfast Telegraph that he had made a final decision to stick with Northern Ireland.

“We’ve been having on-going discussions with Shane and his manager, David Moyes, has been excellent to deal with,” added Worthington.

“I spoke to Shane two or three months ago, at that time he was thinking about it, but we managed to get him turned around, back to ourselves.

“This time I’ve spoke to him and he’s adamant that he’s made his mind up and wants to go to the Republic. Even though as I put him in the squad word came back that he doesn’t want to represent Northern Ireland.

“He has clearly stated that he has made his decision with his family that he wants to represent the Republic of Ireland.

“I’m disappointed because the lad has been with us all the way through, there has been time, effort and commitment from various coaches. You’ve got to look at finance that goes into those situations with producing players who have been with Northern Ireland from a very early age all the way to under-21s.”

Coleraine striker Rory Patterson will head to Tirana after winning a first call-up as has Sunderland goalkeeper Trevor Carson.

“Trevor’s been on the bench for Sunderland and Steve Bruce has spoken highly of him,” said Worthington. “It’s not a department we’re over-blessed in and this is an ideal time for Trevor to come in.”

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