Shane Duffy is ready to push for first-team football next season.
Republic of Ireland Under-21 international Shane Duffy is currently out on loan at Championship strugglers Yeovil Town - and he has been one of their, and the leagues, outstanding players throughout the campaign.
Of course it could have all been so different for the 22-year-old.
Four years ago he was brought into the Republic of Ireland squad for a training camp by manager Giovanni Trapattoni - where fate almost dealt him out of the game early.
He collided with goalkeeper Adrian Walsh and the result saw Duffy become perilously close to death after severe lacerations to his liver. Only surgery and the fast thinking of Irish team doctor and team surgeon Alan Byrne and Professor John O’Byrne respectively stopped internal bleeding claiming his life. Miraculously it was just 10 weeks later when he made his return to football and his resilience and strength of character are factors held in high regard at Goodison Park.
And he has been speaking about that fateful moment - which has seen him dubbed the ‘miracle man’ - and how it has hindered his development.
In an excellent interview in the Irish Post he stated:
“I wasn’t the same afterwards. I struggled for form and it was only this season when I started to play alright again. I don’t know what was happening to me mentally, but basically when I went onto the pitch, it came down to bravery. I was still brave, but not as brave as before…Mentally I was cautious. There was something in my head. And it affected my performances. Now I don’t think about the injury at all whenever I play.”
Everton fans have followed Duffy’s progress with The Glovers intently. His story is one thing but his ability is also clear for all to see.
And with Sylvain Distin not getting any younger Duffy might just be another internal option to eventually take over the reins from the Frenchman.
A concept he is certainly OK with:
"I believe I’m good enough to force my way in there. This is the first time I have got a full season in the Championship. You always have hope. If it doesn’t work out at Everton, it will happen for me somewhere else. But I want to give it a go, to test myself and if I’m not good enough, I will hold my hands up and step away.”
Duffy faces an uphill challenge. The emergence of John Stones as a quality central defensive option gives cause for concern while he must also prove to Roberto Martinez that he can play his football, his style, his tactics.
But uphill challenges come easily to this intrepid youngster.