Everton and Republic of Ireland defender Shane Duffy has denied posting a message of support for the IRA on his Twitter account.

The 21-year-old from Derry was celebrating St Patrick's Day on Sunday when he appeared to retweet a message that read 'Up the Ra!', a reference to the IRA. Duffy subsequently received widespread criticism and issued an apology on Monday morning, though he denied being responsible for the retweet.

In a series of messages, Duffy explained: "sorry everyone some little paddy had my phone last night tweets weren't me.. sorry if it offended anyone!! cant leave ur (sic) phone anywhere now!!"

He added: "Wow so much hate on something I didn't do.. Fair enough gotta take it because its my twitter. And again It was not me who tweeted and retweeted loads last night! Really am sorry if it offended anyone.. Sorry guys!

"Can't do much more ino (sic) it's offended a lot of people getting a lot of hate for something I didn't do. For too much to lose for tweeting something like that. The retweets and tweets was not me. Got to accept the hate. Really am sorry for this mess! Sorry guys!"

Duffy has made three senior appearances for Everton this season and is captain of the Republic of Ireland Under-21 team. He had played for Northern Ireland at junior level before opting to play for the Republic in 2010. A spokesperson for Everton said: "Shane was on an evening out when his phone was taken by someone, who then retweeted an offensive remark, for which Shane has this morning publicly apologised for."