Brighton & Hove Albion defender Shane Duffy feels he is making the step back to the Premier League at the perfect time - and his aim is to help Albion establish themselves in the top flight.
Duffy began his career in the Premier League at Everton and explained that leaving the Toffees to ply his trade in the Championship with Blackburn and Brighton has helped him to improve as a player.
He said, “I probably wasn’t ready to play for Everton at the time and I was only a kid coming through their academy.
“It’s difficult to take a drop down sometimes, but it’s worked out now because I’m back feeling fit and ready to make the most of it.
“I didn't want to leave Everton and always wanted to break through there, but sometimes you are not ready.
“If I am being honest with myself, I wasn’t good enough to break through. It took a few years, I learned the game and now I am back in the Premier League and playing international football too.”
The Irishman is relishing the prospect of facing the division’s best strikers, with Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero potentially the first in a list of high-profile opponents.
“The strikers are the main difference [compared to the Championship]. In the Premier League you’ve got the likes of Aguero, Lukaku, Kane. You don’t have that level of quality in the Championship.
“They’ll take more of their chances compared to those in the Championship. So we can’t afford to give away as many chances this season; it’s something we’ve got to improve on. It is going to be a big task for all of us but we’ll give it our best shot.”
Duffy was pleased to gain more game time for the Republic of Ireland in their June fixtures, and admits that achieving World Cup qualification for his country and Premier League survival is his ultimate aim.
“With the way the season ended, I didn’t play much football, so to have a few games in the summer helped keep me ticking over.
“I prefer it that way; you have a couple of weeks where you can relax with your family and then you’re back at it.
“It would be a fantastic season if we can secure our place in the Premier League and Ireland qualify for the World Cup. That will be my aim and it would be a great year all round.”