Celtic centre-back Shane Duffy claims he isn't match-fit; wants to play every week

By David Walton

September 7, 2020

New Celtic centre-back Shane Duffy has revealed that he isn’t yet match-fit as he acknowledged there are plenty of improvements to be made.

Duffy was part of the Ireland defence that lost a cheap goal to Finland in last night’s Nations League defeat at the Aviva Stadium. The Finns took the spoils with a 1-0 success, as the Celtic man got another 90 minutes into his legs.

That followed his outing against Bulgaria last Thursday, where he managed a last-gasp equaliser and also played the full match. However, both of these matches have been Duffy’s first competitive 90-minute games since a clash with Manchester United back in June.

Shane Duffy comes close with a header (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

And speaking in comments published by Independent.ie, Duffy acknowledged he’s got a bit to go as he looks forward to more minutes.

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“It’s been tough, very tough. I haven’t played a lot of football in a year. That’s where I want to be, playing every week. I know it’s not perfect, I’m my biggest critic and I’ve got to improve and keep going. I know what I need to do, to get back to my best.

“Them slight seconds for the goal tonight, you’re tired. You try and stay up and go on the run. I back myself and I don’t see many players really getting the better of me. I’ve got to deal with big spaces and being on the ball, I’ve got to get better with that.

“It’s easier said than done. I keep going back to it, we’re not at match fitness. We’ve never been in international games like that before. First half I got done with Pukki and obviously for the goal. There’s a lot of improvement to be done.”

Duffy continues to hit the right notes

Since signing for Celtic, the Irish centre-back has had a knack of saying the right things. This is no different.

Nobody is going to try and defend the performance of Duffy and his team-mates last night. They were extremely poor. But there are valid reasons for that which can’t just be dismissed.

When players are struggling to be match-fit, you can tell with their displays on the pitch. Duffy’s lack of game-time was clearly on show, which is exactly why these two international matches will be so important for him ahead of his stint with the Hoops.

Celtic defender Shane Duffy / (Photo By Alex Nicodim/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

It remains to be seen whether Neil Lennon eases him into action the way he has done with the likes of Albian Ajeti. But the difference is that Duffy has had a pre-season under his belt – something Ajeti didn’t manage at West Ham. It’s competitive minutes he now needs.

The centre-back may have tired as the game wore on last night, but the level of responsibility he takes is admirable. Even when he was puffing, Duffy was still taking the ball on and striding forward to try and get his team on the front foot. Tiredness doesn’t affect his desire.

That character is going to be needed in our chase for 10-in-a-row this season. And considering we have a busy schedule coming up, his thirst for games will suit us to a tee.

In other news, Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell reportedly contacted the SFA with an urgent request.