Michael Duffy keen to declare for Ireland as soon as possible
Underage Northern Ireland winger told by Martin O’Neill he can expect a call-up soon
Dundalk’s Michael Duffy is keen to declare for Ireland as soon as possible. Photo: Ciaran Culligan/Inpho
Dundalk winger Michael Duffy is anxious to complete the process of declaring for the Republic of Ireland after being told by manager Martin O’Neill that he intends to include him in a full international squad over the coming months.
O’Neill had indicated to the 24-year-old when he spoke to him last week that he might be called up for the Nations League double-header against Denmark and Wales but Duffy’s international transfer is at a very early stage and so November, when Ireland play Northern Ireland in a friendly then travel to Aarhus for their return game against the Danes, looks more likely and there is the possibility that the process will stretch into the new year and the opening Euro 2020 qualifiers in March.
“Once I’d spoken to Martin, I definitely have my heart set on the Republic of Ireland,” says Duffy who previously represented Northern Ireland at Under-18, 19 and 21 levels. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a boy and getting a phone call from him to say he was interested in taking me in the squad, I couldn’t believe it, it was a great achievement for me for that to happen.
“I’m not sure how long it takes or even what needs to be done,” says the Derryman, “but he said to me that he wants me to join up with the team, he’s been watching me and been happy with the way I’ve been playing. Hopefully it does come through. That (the November meeting with Northern Ireland) would be some game to play in if it did come to it.”
England manager Gareth Southgate, meanwhile, did little to suggest at his squad announcement on Thursday that he is as concerned as O’Neill over the future of Declan Rice with the former Aston Villa player observing that the 19-year-old is still, at this moment in time, part of the Ireland set up.
“As far as I’m concerned he’s with Ireland at the moment and as much as we think he’s a very good player, that decision has to lie with him,” he said.
“I’m conscious that he’s a very young man and there’s a lot of spotlight on him. He has a really difficult decision because there is a lot of pressure on him.”
Rice’s West Ham club mate, Josh Cullen, has joined League One Charlton Athletic on a season long loan.
“I think he’s a great addition to the squad,” said Charlton boss Lee Bowyer of the 22-year-old who has made more than a dozen appearances for the Irish under-21s having previously represented England at Under-16 level. “He’s a very good player in and out of possession so he’ll be a good addition for us. I’ve always said I only want players that improve us, and he improves us.”
Reports in the German media suggest that Uefa will introduce a third club competition from 2021. There has been speculation before such an idea was being considered but the Hamburg based magazine sport Bild says the Europe League group stage will be reduced from 48 clubs to 32 with the new, as yet unnamed competition, which is likely to be broadcast via online platforms, also having 32 teams.