Promising Everton defender Shane Duffy has rocked Northern Ireland by deciding to change his allegiance, the Irish Football Association have confirmed.
The 18-year-old Derry-born player has informed manager Nigel Worthington he wants to play for the Republic of Ireland instead.
Duffy has withdrawn from the squad to face Albania in a friendly in Tirana on March 3 after being named in the party today.
He looked set to win his first cap in the absence of captain Aaron Hughes and his defensive team-mate Chris Baird.
However, Duffy, who has made two appearances for Everton in the Europa League this season, sees his future with the Republic like Manchester United’s Darron Gibson.
Worthington is believed to be disappointed at Duffy’s change of heart.
He has come through the system with the province and was captain of the Under-19s before
graduating to the Under-21s.
Duffy was one of three uncapped players called up along with Coleraine striker Rory Patterson and Sunderland goalkeeper Trevor Carson.