BLACKBURN Rovers new boy Shane Duffy admits he has a huge challenge on his hands to dislodge two of the three ‘great’ centre backs Gary Bowyer has at his disposal.

But the 22-year-old’s battle with captain Grant Hanley, Matt Kilgallon and Alex Baptiste for a spot in Rovers boss Bowyer’s starting line-up will be nothing compared to the fight he faced four years ago.


Duffy had to undergo life-saving surgery after lacerating his liver in a freak training ground accident while away with the Republic of Ireland international team.

The then 18-year-old lost 3.6 litres of blood – around two-thirds of his supply – following a potentially fatal collision with the opposition goalkeeper during a practice match.

But Duffy, who last week put pen to paper on a three-year contract with Rovers after ending his six-year association with Everton, went on to make a full recovery.

And now he is determined to continue making the most of his second chance.

“It set me back but it was one of those unfortunate things that can happen in football,” said Duffy, who stills bears the scars from the emergency operation.

“I don’t really think about it anymore as I’m back to where I was before it happened.

“I’m just enjoying that I’m still here and still playing.”

Duffy played 37 times for Yeovil Town in the Championship last season during what would prove to be his third and final loan spell away from Everton.

He was reluctant to leave the Goodison Park outfit after signing for them as a 16-year-old.

But the prospect of further first-team football with Rovers, a club he wants to help get back into the Premier League, was too good to down.

Duffy, however, realises he has work to do to win a place in the heart of their defence.

“My aim is to get into the first team but we’ve got three great centre halves here,” said Duffy, who won his first international cap in June.

“There’s competition here and that’s good. It keeps you on your toes and it improves you as a player, which I want.

“I’ve just got to work hard in training, get into the team and then try and stay in the team.”

Duffy was part of the Yeovil side which ground out a 0-0 draw at Ewood Park in April.

But Saturday’s home clash with Wigan Athletic could be the first time Rovers fans have seen the 6ft 4in stopper in the blue and white halved shirt.

Asked what type of player supporters can expect to see Duffy said: “I like clean sheets and I like defending – I’m just a defender.

“I like to defend for the team and I like to be a leader.

“I can head it and I can pass it – I can do it. But now it's just a case of doing it constantly and hopefully that’s what coming here will help me improve to do.”