Martin O’Neill made is clear this week he wants former U19 and U21 Northern Ireland winger Michael Duffy in his squad.
The 24-year-old Derry native currently plays for Dundalk FC in the Irish Premier League but was never capped at Senior level for Northern Ireland even though he was named in Michael O’Neill’s squad for the qualifying trip to the Czech Republic back in 2016.
Duffy started his career at Derry City before being signed by Celtic in 2015, after he failed to make the first team he given on loan to Alloa Athletic where he made thirty four appearances before he was loaned to Dundee in the 2016/ 2017 season. Dundalk came calling last year and Duffy has made a massive impact in the Irish Premier League team and is being touted as the best player in the League, its little wonder Martin O’Neill wants him so badly.
Michael Duffy confirmed recently that he was happy to play for either Rep of Ireland or Northern Ireland, but his preference is to play for Martin O’Neill’s side. He told Off the Ball “If a call came from Martin O’Neill, I would be delighted – I’d jump at that,” he continued “The same thing, I was obviously in the Northern Ireland squad. It’s just a huge thing to play for international country. So, I wouldn’t be turning down either. Obviously, if Martin came I would take that opportunity”.
To play for Republic of Ireland, Duffy requires international clearance from FIFA because he has played for Northern Ireland at U19 and U21 level. Martin O’Neill will be looking to expedite his clearance to have him the squad for Nations League tournament. Martin O’Neill told RTE this week “I’ve got a lot of time for him. I think he’s an exceptionally talented player. It didn’t happen for him at Celtic. He wouldn’t be the first young player to have gone over there and not come through.” He went on to say, “He definitely has the ability to go past players, it’s nice to see. I’ve seen him on both types of surfaces – on what I would consider the normal pitches and I’ve seen him play at Dundalk on the artificial surface. He’s a definite talent, there’s no question about that.”
If Duffy’s FIFA clearance goes through in time, O’Neill could have him in his starting eleven for October’s Nations League double-header with Wales and Denmark.