REPUBLIC OF IRELAND youngster Shane Duffy may find himself tossed in at the deep end for tonight’s FA Cup fourth round meeting between Everton and Fulham.
An injury crisis in the Everton defence will force manager David Moyes to either hand Duffy his cup debut alongside John Heitinga at centre-half or play the more experienced Tony Hibbert out of position.
In May 2010, Duffy suffered a “freak” life-threatening injury during an Ireland training match, but has since recovered and impressed during loan spells with Burnley and Scunthorpe United last season.
Everton recalled the Derry youngster at the start of the year and Duffy wasted little time in breaking into the first team, making his first Premier League start in the 1-1 draw against Aston Villa a fortnight ago.
Speaking to the club’s official website, Moyes declared himself pleased with Duffy’s performances so far. But with Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka both ruled out through injury, the Scot said that he will have to take account of Hibbert’s experience before settling on his starting 11 for tonight’s game.
“We want him to keep doing things simple and not over-complicate things,” Moyes said, “and if he keeps playing as well as he has done in the last two games then we will all be happy.
“The decision for me is that I will have Tony Hibbert fit and available, so do I put him in because of his experience, albeit not being a centre half? So we have got that in our mind as well because the games now are really important games.
We have got to win in the cup to get through and we have games coming up that are against really top teams. We have to decide if Shane is the right one for the job.