In August last season in Wales, Shane Duffy was at dungeon level.

He had just turned down Blackburn Rovers' offer of an improved deal and had been forced to delete his twitter account after an own goal against Wigan.

It was about to get worse, much worse.

Duffy scored two more own goals in the space of six minutes and was sent-off in the closing stages of a 2-1 defeat at Cardiff (below right).

The Argus: He was a figure of fun for the home fans. 'Duffy is a Bluebird, Duffy is a Bluebird', they bellowed.

Swansea supporters are in no position to mock when he returns to Wales with Albion on Saturday.

Two subsequent visits to the principality have emphasised Duffy's value to club and country.

A 0-0 draw back in Cardiff with Albion last December typified the formidable defensive partnership he has forged with Lewis Dunk.

Last month, Duffy was colossal at the heart of the Republic of Ireland rearguard, man-of-the-match in the 1-0 win over Wales which has put him and his country within two games of the World Cup finals in Russia next summer.

The memory of a contrasting evening of despair is never far away. Not because Paul Trollope, the Cardiff manager he gifted three points to, is now Albion's assistant but because it has driven him on.

"I wouldn't have wished it on my worst enemy," Duffy said. "But I really believe it has made me a better player and a better person from those lows.

"I've had good nights back there already. I always say to myself when I go back to Wales 'I can't have that night again'.

"It was tough, I'm not going to lie, and it was a tough part of my life. Obviously, getting the move here helped and then I struggled a little bit.

"If you look back a year ago to now it's a huge difference."

Huge indeed since the initial struggle he refers to, consecutive 2-0 defeats on his debut at Newcastle and then at home to Brentford, which left Chris Hughton's Albion halfway down the Championship.

They are halfway up the Premier League now and Duffy's reputation grows with every towering header and defiant block.

Swansea launches quite a month, matches against Manchester United and Crystal Palace for Albion, against Denmark in the World Cup play-offs with Ireland. Duffy (below) is embracing the challenge.

The Argus: "It's what I want to be here for," he said. "What an opportunity, playing in huge games. At club level as well. You always dream of going to Old Trafford and playing against Manchester United.

"I've got all of them to look forward to. This season has been brilliant already. I've got a huge month coming up personally. Hopefully I am fit, keep myself healthy, and try to keep my form and pick up a few good results."

Dunk will be putting his feet up for a well-earned rest while Duffy goes toe-to-toe with the Danes.

Dunk was overlooked for England's Wembley friendlies against Germany and Brazil. The task for the pair of them at the Liberty Stadium is to snuff out Tammy Abraham, who Albion wanted in the summer and who got the call from Gareth Southgate.

Duffy, his international credentials already well-established, said: "It's brought my game on a lot, confidence and believing I can play at that level. It gives me a boost every time, playing in big games and a couple of games away from the biggest stage in the world.

"For him (Dunk), if he got there, he could even go on and play for Real Madrid or something! He's got the world at his feet."

Albion's modus operandi under former Republic of Ireland stalwart Chris Hughton evokes parallels with the way Martin O'Neill operates on the international stage.

"We've got great spirit, from the country, from the fans," Duffy said. "Everyone's proud to play. They don't want to let anybody down. It comes from the manager, he gives you the confidence that you can get your country to a World Cup.

"It's similar here, the spirit. You can see why we are so difficult to beat."

Albion have experienced defeat only once in their last five Premier League matches, at Arsenal where Swansea lost narrowly last Saturday.

"I always find it hard to look past the next game," Duffy said. "It's Swansea and it's a big game. It's not the end of the world if we don't go there and win but, if we take what we did at West Ham, we've got enough to go there and win."

Perhaps with a third clean sheet in succession in Wales to further dull the pain of that low point.