Damien Duff on the mend and planning to tick League of Ireland off his bucket list

At same Dublin event, John O’Shea insists Ireland can deliver victory over Scotland

Set for the Airtricity League? Damien Duff at the Beacon Hospital,   Dublin, on Sunday at the launch of a sports medicine initiative by    the hospital in association with First Ireland. Photograph: David Maher/Sportsfile

Set for the Airtricity League? Damien Duff at the Beacon Hospital, Dublin, on Sunday at the launch of a sports medicine initiative by the hospital in association with First Ireland. Photograph: David Maher/Sportsfile

 

Damien Duff reckons he is about two months away from being fit enough to play competitively again, and is still hoping to feature for an Airtricity League team before the end of the season. If not, he says, he will be aiming for the start of the 2016 campaign.

“The plan is to play here,” he said at the launch of an initiative between First Ireland and the Beacon Clinic aimed at giving amateur players greater access to treatment for injuries. “You’re probably sick of me saying I want to play in the League of Ireland; everyone probably is. But it’s on the bucket list. And I like ticking things off the bucket list, so that’s the plan.”

An ankle injury brought a premature end to Duff’s Australian A-League career, but he is well on the road to recovery now. “It was straightforward surgery; I just have to let it heal,” he says. “Tendons are a bit slower. I’m in the final stages of rehab. Hopefully, I can play in a couple of months. I hope I can get a game this season. But I want to be right; I don’t want to come back and play like a muppet.

“If it didn’t happen this season – God forbid, something else happened to me ankle – I’d just come back and play again next season. You might think I’m mad, I’ll be 37 then, but that’s the plan. I was flying in Oz before I got injured and if I’m fit and well, that’s what I want to do.”

String of clubs

“Yeah, possibly,” he says. “I’m doing my coaching badges at the end of the month, starting my ‘B’. As for the money thing, I’m not in it for the money; it’s for the joy of playing the game.”

Asked about his support for the launch of the ClubCare scheme, in which Ireland team doctor, Alan Byrne, is a key player, Duff joked: “Obviously when I heard there was free scans, I was straight over myself, because I love an auld scan!

“But it’s amazing. It gets players back on the pitch quicker, so fair play to everyone involved.”

With the Ireland squad due to meet up today, John O’Shea is also among those present. The centre half has had a week on a coaching course since Sunderland made sure of their top-flight status for next season, and the Waterford man says he is hoping that under the next manager the team can do much better. But the first thing, he concedes, is to appoint Dick Advocaat’s successor.

“We were fairly certain in the dressing room that he [Advocaat] was going to stay on, so for him to make that decision, you’re gutted,” O’Shea says. “So this is a big summer for the club, and hopefully they make the right appointment and hopefully we get it done as soon as possible.”

The club has averaged a manager a season over the past few years, with changes late in campaigns repeatedly paying off for owner Ellis Short.

“The owner has made those calls, and in terms of staying in the Premier League it has worked for him,” says O’Shea. “He would like to have it nice and stable, be higher in the league, and whoever we do get in, I hope it’s long term and they can grow the club.

But last week we were on a coaching course in Cork and Lee Carsley came in to give a talk about the transition from player to coach. It was great, the few ideas he gave us. But [he made the point that] you think you have four or five years, and 10 games later you are sacked. So it’s about winning, although if you can get a plan and philosophy in place, then great.”

Upbeat

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