Shane Duffy is relishing another crack at the Premier League and feels he is now ready to play in the top flight of English football.
The 25-year-old Ireland international played five matches for Everton in the Premier League at the start of his career but after six years at Goodison Park moved to Blackburn in September, 2014.
He joined the Seagulls late in the August transfer window last year, after a difficult start to the season when he scored three own goals and picked up a red card in Blackburn’s opening five games.
Duffy was then on the losing side in his first two matches for Albion but then formed a formidable partnership in central defence with Lewis Dunk as he became a firm fans’ favourite.
He suffered a broken metatarsal at the beginning of March and then missed the rest of Brighton's season. While disappointed to miss the run-in, Duffy cannot wait to run out as a Premier League player next season.
He said: “I feel a lot more part of it this time as I probably wasn’t ready at the time before and I’m just looking forward to it now.
“I’m going to get my head down, get fit and have another crack at it.”
On what he’s looking forward to and aims for next season, Duffy said: “I’m looking forward to going back to Everton to see a few mates but they’re all going to be big games. I was no supporter of a Premier League team, it would be different if Celtic were in the league.
“Any team that gets promoted that has never been in the Premier League will just look to stay in the league. We know how difficult it will be but you just go game by game and by the end of the 38th game, if you’re above the line that’s what matters.
“I think the fans will celebrate finishing 17th as much as promotion in the Championship, so the main aim is just to stay up.
“This squad is definitely good enough to stay in the Premier League with a few additions and on our day we can beat anyone.”
Reflecting on his own season, Duffy said: “The first month was difficult, just finding my feet, but the lads were brilliant with me and I’ve really enjoyed it, enjoyed being around them and the achievement.
“When I joined, I was just hoping to be up there. You see the strength of the squad and you think the play-offs or the top two, so we’ve done better than what we maybe expected and I’m just delighted. Obviously the ending and the injury killed me but the lads did the business and got us over the line.”
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