Brighton & Hove Albion defensive duo Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy have become Premier League mainstays for the Seagulls in recent years, and they’re just as close off the field as on it.
The pair face Liverpool at the Amex Stadium this afternoon having made a combined total of 117 Premier League appearances for Chris Hughton’s side. So often found side by side on the field, they’re also never far away off it.
“We probably spend more time with one another than anyone else, we bond all the time and always sit around together after training. It’s good and when it comes to a match it helps a lot more,” Shane says.
“We’re the same sort of age and have the same sort of backgrounds and upbringings, it probably also helped that we both played in the Premier League for the first-time last season.
“We both wanted to thrive off that – it helps the friendship off the field. You just grow into it and we both probably don’t realise it, but you do get closer, I was buzzing when he got his England call-up – it was a long time coming and I was probably happier than he was!”
The camaraderie between the two is well-documented, and Dunk stressed the positive impact the relationship has in England’s top flight.
“We’re close away from the field and it obviously helps when you’re playing matches, we play alongside each other and our position on the field means we’ll always need to talk and communicate, I imagine if you didn’t have that sort of relationship with one another then it would make things quite difficult.
“I’d consider him my friend if I have to! But we don’t share a room on away trips, we all have our separate rooms, I don’t think he could handle my snoring and I probably couldn’t handle his either!”
Duffy tops the clearances charts for the league so far this term and has also netted four times for Albion at the other end of the field, and Dunk praised the exploits of his defensive partner.
“Shane’s a man mountain and I know that if I don’t make a header in the box then he won’t be far behind, we just clicked after playing with one another – it took a few games to get used to the partnership, but it’s just kicked on from there.”
Shane agrees, “He didn’t speak to me when I first came in!”
“I signed the day before my first game and had trained once – it took us a few weeks to get to know one another.
“It helped we’ve both stayed clear of injury and the number of matches we’ve been able to play with one another has really helped our game – now we don’t have to say much to one another when we go out on the field.”
Jurgen Klopp’s side visit the south coast this afternoon sitting top of the table. Last year’s meeting at the Amex Stadium saw the Merseysiders run out 5-1 winners – but Dunk stressed that Hughton’s men had come a long way since then.
“We’re a completely different side now and we’re a far better team than we were last season,” he insists.
“We’re more knowledgeable about this division and we only really suffered two heavy defeats last campaign – we’re the sort of side that prides ourselves on clean sheets and works off our shape.
“I think they’re one of the best attacking sides in the world and they’re top of the league for a reason, but when we went to Anfield earlier this year we stayed in the game, they’ve lost their last two and we’ve got home advantage so there’s positives there for us.
“You never know what can happen, we know we’re a good side and we believe we can get something.”
Shane adds, “We know it’s going to be tough and we know we could be busy, but that’s why we’re in this division – to compete with the top players in the world and test yourself against the best.
“Last year maybe we chased the game and then they ran away with it – we’ve learnt about staying in games now and you’ll always get chances if you stay in a match.”