By Micil Glennon
Everton defender Shane Duffy says he has to start playing regular first-team football if he wants to get back in the Republic of Ireland fold.
In February 2012, the 21-year-old received a call-up to the senior squad for a friendly game with the Czech Republic but was an unused sub in a 1-1 draw.
Since then, he has fallen down the queue, with Reading defender Alex Pearce, Aston Villa's Ciaran Clark and Derby County captain Richard Keogh emerging as contenders for the centre back spot.
Duffy has made just three substitute appearances for the Toffees this season, most recently in the 2-2 draw against Oldham in the FA Cup, and he has admitted that he can't expect to get back into Giovanni Trapattoni's plans with such sporadic game-time.
Speaking exclusively to Goal.com, he said: "I need to play first-team football, that's it. The manager [Giovanni Trapattoni] has said that to me. He's not going to play someone who is playing reserve football so it's up to me to get myself out on loan or play at Everton, so it's one of those things.
"It can be [frustrating], you just have to be patient and hopefully that's what I’m doing and when my time comes I'll be ready."
|DUFFY'S INTERNATIONAL STATS
|UNDER-21 GAMES PLAYED
And the defender, who has already had loan spells with Burnley and Scunthorpe, explained that he now needs to take his career to the next level.
"I am just looking to play football, it's the best thing, it's what I love," he said. "Until I get playing football [regularly] my career will stay like this so I am looking forward to playing and kicking on."
Despite missing out on a place in the senior squad, the Derry native remains a regular at under-21 level and has been appointed team captain by manager Noel King.
On February 6, Duffy led the Young Boys in Green to an impressive 3-0 win over the Netherlands in Tallaght Stadium, where a double from Millwall's Aiden O'Brien and a goal Wolves' Anthony Forde saw off the Dutch.
Duffy praised the goal-scorers and stressed his delight at the result. He said: "[They are] good players, it's the first time I've seen Aiden and he took his goals well, he could have had a hat-trick. He's a good lad. We all know what 'Fordey' can do, he was in the squads before so hopefully we can keep him fit."
He continued: "It was a good result, I'm delighted, it's the first time, basically, that the squad has been together so it surprised me a little bit but we're delighted with the win. Thankfully, we've worked well together.
"They settled in straight away, they caught us on the break, we were just getting used to each other, around the pitch. We got lucky after 10 or 15 minutes. After 15 minutes we settled down and I don’t think they could break through us after that."
Noel King's under-21 side will face Germany, Romania, Montenegro and Faroe Islands as they battle for a place at the European Championships in the Czech Republic in 2015.