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Duffy: Players are to blame for poor campaign



More to do: Shane Duffy is backing boss Martin O’Neill

More to do: Shane Duffy is backing boss Martin O’Neill

�INPHO/Ryan Byrne

More to do: Shane Duffy is backing boss Martin O’Neill

Shane Duffy has insisted the players have to take responsibility for the Republic of Ireland's plight as manager Martin O'Neill and assistant Roy Keane find themselves in the firing line.

The Republic's hopes of mounting a Nations League fightback were dealt a seemingly-fatal blow in Dublin on Tuesday evening when Harry Wilson fired Wales to a 1-0 victory at the Aviva Stadium, in the process all but condemning the Republic of Ireland to relegation from League B.

A chorus of disapproval surrounding O'Neill and Keane's near five-year reign has been growing in volume in recent months, prompting the manager to repeatedly outline his credentials.

However, Brighton defender Duffy is adamant that the players have to take the blame for what has been a disappointing campaign to date.

He said: "Well, it's us out there (on the pitch), it's not them. It's us playing. It's players' responsibility to go out and perform. They can tell us what to do, but it's up to us to do it.

"We've obviously let them down. The players have to take responsibility and put it right. It's obviously not good enough.

"I wouldn't blame them. They're not out there. It's down to us. That's the main thing. We've got to look at ourselves."

Ireland head for Denmark next month knowing their fate could already be sealed by the time they board the plane for Aarhus, with the Danes in Wales three days earlier.

A Welsh victory would give O'Neill's men a chance to redeem themselves with a win on their head-to-head record with Age Hareide's side, although winning is a habit which has eluded them in recent times.

Asked about the consequences of finishing bottom of Group 4, which would result in a lower seeding for the Euro 2020 qualifiers, Duffy said: "We're not looking at it like that. We don't think we'll finish bottom.

"We've got to believe that we can go out to Denmark and win, and hopefully other results go our way. We've got a never-say-die attitude. We won't give up now.

"We've still got one more game to play. Hopefully we can go out there, put a good performance in and get three points. You'd never know where that could take us.

"Obviously it hasn't been good enough for our standards and where we've been in the last few years. It's a bit of a low one at the minute. We've just got to pick ourselves up, regroup and have that never-say-die attitude. We've got to go again."

And defender Kevin Long also says that the team has to accept the blame for coming up short against Wales.

The Burnley player offered support to under-fire manager O'Neill by stressing that the staff had done all the necessary work to prepare for the Nations League clash.

"We should have got one," said Long, who started on the left side of the back three in both matches in the October window.

"The players have given everything, the staff have given everything - I can't fault them on that issue. We have come up short.

"There are a lot of new players in the squad and I do feel the results have been slowly improving. But, as I said, it's not good enough, we need to start winning games.

"It's no fault of commitment," continued the Corkman. "The staff and players are all together and we are giving everything, it's just not clicked at the moment."

Belfast Telegraph