Duffy should return 'early next season'

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The Independent Football

Everton defender Shane Duffy could be back playing within three or four months after surviving a life-threatening injury.

The Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni yesterday revealed doctors are hopeful that the 18-year-old, who suffered a freak liver injury during a training match last Friday, could return to action early next season.

Trapattoni said: "He is conscious. We are optimistic and all the doctors are optimistic. They think in about three or four months, he can play. But it is important he is fit, he is conscious and he is not in danger as he was in the first two days."

Concerning tonight's friendly with Paraguay, Trapattoni confirmed that goalkeeper Keiren Westwood will start as Shay Given continues his recovery from injury.

Stephen Kelly, Paul McShane, Sean St Ledger and John O'Shea will make up the back four with Liam Lawrence, Keith Andrews, Glenn Whelan and Damien Duff in midfield and the captain Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle in attack.

Expressing the relief within the Irish camp, midfielder Andrews described how close a call Duffy had. "Luckily, we had our surgeon here just watching with his son, which was a massive stroke of luck because if that hadn't been the case and the ambulance hadn't been here, and certain other factors, it could have been tragic.

"The lads have been saying what a lovely lad he is, and how he has made a good impression on and off the pitch this week."