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honest confession 'I was going through a difficult time' - Shane Duffy on the trip that got him back on track

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Shane Duffy (right) earned the praise of Brighton manager Graham Potter (left)

Shane Duffy (right) earned the praise of Brighton manager Graham Potter (left)

Shane Duffy (right) earned the praise of Brighton manager Graham Potter (left)

Shane Duffy has admitted his performances during a disappointing spell at Celtic were affected by off-field issues, as he revealed a seven-hour drive from Glasgow to Brighton gave him a chance to reset his career.

In a lengthy interview with Sky Sports, the Republic of Ireland defender revealed he has made changes to the people around him and he is thinking positively once again after returning to the Brighton side for their Premier League opener at Burnley last weekend.

Duffy lost his father last year and struggled to find his form after a loan move to Celtic, but he has been praised by Brighton boss Potter in recent weeks and now admits his issues away from football affected his performances last season.

"I was going through a difficult time off the pitch," began Duffy. "That affected training every day, and then affected a Saturday, and the fans didn't deserve that - I put my hands up and apologise for that. There were a lot of things wrong, and the table spoke for itself at the end of the season.

"I had a drive from Glasgow to Brighton that took me seven hours, so I had a long think. I spoke to myself, spoke to people I trust, and went over the summer and surrounded myself with good people.

"I let some people go who weren't the best thing for me at the moment. That's what sort of happened, I surrounded myself with good people, made better decisions off the pitch, and I can feel myself improving on the pitch already."

Duffy faced an uncertain future when he returned to Brighton, but his performance last weekend suggests he can fit into Potter's side as he insisted he can shine in a back three that have a focus on passing out from the back.

"Everyone thinks Brighton's back three just have to carry the ball and don't defend, but it's not like that at all," said Duffy. "I'm confident in my ability, I can play out as well, I might not be Franz Beckenbauer running out, but not many are.

"I've got strengths I can bring to the team for certain games, I'm always trying to improve and learn, and develop. Not a lot of people see day-to-day training. Looking at Dan, we know how good he is on the ball, you might not see it on a Saturday, but we know and the manager sees it every day.

"It's probably similar with me, the manager sees it and the players trust it. The manager's very open, he likes to mix and match it sometimes, and if he trusts you, he plays you. There might be some games where I'm not needed and some where I am, and I'm totally fine with that.

"It was such a proud feeling (after his Premier League return last weekend. On Saturday night I got home, sat down and reflected on it - I'm really, really happy."

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Now Duffy is relishing the chance to play in front of a packed AMEX Stadium as Brighton play their first home game of the season against Watford on Saturday.

"I'm really excited, I haven't played in front of our fans for a long time now because of Covid and being out of the team the previous season," he added.

"It's been a long time. I'm hoping I can play a part and see them there. It's going to be an emotional day."

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