Brighton & Hove Albion defender Shane Duffy is grateful for his journey back to the top flight, highlighting the importance of plying his trade in the lower leagues before returning to the Premier League.
Duffy ended a five-year absence from the elite of the English game when he featured against Manchester City on the opening day of last season at the Amex Stadium, and admits he wasn’t certain of reaching the top level again.
He said, “You have doubts and I went to a couple of fantastic family clubs that really bring you in and grow you as both a person and as a footballer.
“I went to play some games at Yeovil Town and Scunthorpe United which were both family clubs that really looked after me.
“It brought me a realisation that it’s tougher further down the leagues. I am grateful for all those loan moves and it’s probably got me to where I am today.
“It was great to be back at that stage after all those years ago doing it with Everton. It felt longer than five years. I was delighted, but you’ve got to stay switched on to remain that level.”
The defender looked more immediately to the upcoming games against AFC Bournemouth and Cardiff City, and highlighted the importance of making the Amex a fortress again.
“We’ve got two big games coming up, and we have to take advantage of being at home and getting results on the board against two teams that are around us. It’s a huge couple of weeks coming up," he continued.
“We’re not safe and we know that. They are two huge games at home, and hopefully we can take advantage of that and get the points we need.
“We’ve got to score a lot more goals, but that’s quite tough in this league. I don’t think we’ve kept as many clean sheets this season as opposed to last, and it’s about getting back to basics and do what we’re good at which got us into this league.”
Duffy also assessed the threat which the Cherries will pose, and the challenge of facing Bournemouth’s front two of Joshua King and Callum Wilson was a topic of discussion in particular.
“They’ve [Bournemouth] had an up-and-down season, but on their day they can punish you and we have to be aware of that. We’ve got to be on our game and only worry about ourselves.
“You’re always coming up against good strikers, and that’s the beauty of this league. You’re up against so many different kinds and they play two upfront, who are going to keep us busy.
“They’ve both had good seasons, so I’m sure they will fancy themselves, but hopefully we’ll come out as winners.”