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The Republic of Ireland under-21 captain has revealed the influence of Toffees coaches Alan Stubbs and David Weir, as well as his admiration for Phil Neville and Phil Jagielka

Everton defender Shane Duffy has praised the influence of Alan Stubbs and David Weir after the pair were touted for a role with the Toffees' first-team coaching staff.

Former Toffees defenders Stubbs and Weir coached Everton's under-21 side to the top of their league last season and Duffy paid tribute to the duo, noting that they "put a lot of work" into his development.

"The spirit right through from [Alan Stubbs] and David Weir is that we never give up and we are all in it together," Duffy told the club's official website.

"Since I first came up, the coaches have put a lot of work into me and they have stuck with me. And if I haven't been playing well or I have made mistakes, they have always trusted me, thrown me back in and even made me captain this year."

The 21-year-old defender is captain for both Everton and the Republic of Ireland under-21 teams and revealed that he has been trying to learn from Toffees skippers Phil Neville and Phil Jagielka.

He said: "I have tried to watch how they operate in first-team games and bring that to the reserves. I try to be vocal. In the changing room as well. It is down to your personality.

"If you look at Neville, his personality is unbelievable and Jagielka is the same. People can be different, it is just about the way you take on the armband and the responsibility.

"On the pitch, I try to be a leader out there. I try to talk to everyone and I have to look after myself as well.

"It is tough being a captain but I have enjoyed it and it has helped me concentrate a lot more in games as well. You have to be fully concentrated all the time," concluded Duffy.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has admitted that he was surprised to learn of Liam McAlinden's desire to represent the Republic of Ireland.

Wolves striker McAlinden had been named in Stephen Robinson's under-21 squad for the forthcoming fixture against Cyprus, but informed the Irish Football Association (IFA) that he did not wish to be considered for selection in order to hold out for a call-up from the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster, former Shamrock Rovers boss O'Neill said that the 19-year-old had a "good relationship" with the coaching staff but stressed that the decision "lies with the player".

"It was one which came as a little bit of a surprise to us," he said. "He has a good relationship with Stephen Robinson, our under-21 coach."

He continued: "I met Liam personally on a couple of occasions and we met with him hoping that might persuade him to stay with Northern Ireland, but he has decided to stick by his decision.

"I think for family reasons he maybe felt a greater sway to play for the Republic of Ireland. He mentioned that when we did have a meeting with him.

"I believe he would certainly have a greater chance to play for us at senior level in the near future than he will do with the Republic of Ireland, but ultimately the decision lies with the player," added the Northern Ireland manager.