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Shane Duffy remains hopeful of reaching the home European Championship finals with the Republic of Ireland

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Shane Duffy has not given up hope of playing for the Republic of Ireland at a EURO finals on home soil.

His week’s confirmation that the United Kingdom and Ireland have bid to host Euro 2028 means Duffy and his team-mates may still have a chance to do just that after missing out at the rescheduled 2020 finals , when they failed to qualify and then saw Dublin being stripped of their participation due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The Brighton defender will be 36 when 2028 arrives and while he admits he doesn’t know what will happen by then, he hopes he’s still there.

Duffy said: “We’re not naïve in football, especially when the younger ones come through. I’m excited.

“I don’t know how to proceed. Age is just a number – when I feel fit… I’ve seen John O’Shea and Robbie Keane play at their age.

“Every chance is great to play for your country in major tournaments. It would be stupid to say, ‘No, I don’t want to be part of it.’ It’s about making me feel good – but I don’t know where I’ll be when I’m 36. You just made me old, cheers for that.

“But you never say never. I watched players play until they were 36, 37, 38, 40 years old. If I’m still at a good level and playing well, you never know. But I don’t have a crystal ball.”

In the short term, Ireland will focus on their upcoming Nations League and Euro 2024 campaigns, preparations for which begin in earnest this week with Saturday’s friendly against world number ones Belgium.

Stephen Kenny’s men failed to qualify for this winter’s World Cup finals, but a team built on a mix of youth and experience have made progress over the past year and Duffy is confident they have a better fate ahead of them.

When asked what would constitute success, he said: “I think we can do well in the Nations League. I think we can win the group – and I’m not saying that in advance.

“The way we’re going about it and what we believe in, I think we can win it. I think that would be a good start and move on from there.

“For me, that’s what we need to believe and strive for as a country – that we can win groups and qualify for tournaments.

“And why not? You can see the progress we’re making now. When we had a difficult start, we always said that the young players would benefit and we see that now. We’re gathering results.

“Hopefully we can win the Nations League and have a good qualifying campaign and set the standard for ourselves and excite the whole nation.”

https://www.independent.ie/sport/shane-duffy-holding-on-to-hope-of-home-euro-finals-with-republic-of-ireland-41485075.html Shane Duffy remains hopeful of reaching the home European Championship finals with the Republic of Ireland

Fry Electronics Team

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