Belfast Telegraph

Duffy switches from Northern Ireland to Republic

Shane Duffy’s dramatic international turnaround has angered Irish FA officials — but those inside Windsor Avenue headquarters were left powerless to prevent his switch to the Republic of Ireland.

The Everton teenager was on the verge of a full international debut, having represented Northern Ireland at every other level up to B international, only to turn his back on the country and declare for the Republic instead.

Over the last few years the IFA has lobbied both UEFA and FIFA over the eligibility rules that have seen northern-born players tempted by the Football Association of Ireland.

Much to the IFA’s frustration, the loophole remains open, but even closing that wouldn’t have kept Duffy. Unlike other Northern Ireland-born players in the shape of Manchester United’s Darron Gibson and Marc Wilson of Portsmouth — who the IFA have claimed aren’t eligible to play for the Republic as they don’t have a bloodline link — Duffy is perfectly entitled to make the change as he has both a parent and grandparent born across the border.

Nigel Worthington wanted to take Duffy to Albania for next week’s friendly international, but the 18-year-old snubbed that call-up when his club was informed after being pursued by the Republic for the last few years.

“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,” revealed Worthington.

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

Despite Duffy informing the IFA of his decision his name remained on the list that was circulated to the media yesterday morning — largely in order to highlight the situation.

“I’m disappointed because the lad has been with us all the way through,” said Worthington.

However, one man who will be thrilled with his international call-up is Coleraine hotshot Rory Patterson.

Belfast Telegraph

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