Celtic defender Duffy "hard on himself", likely to take part tomorrow

By Euan Davidson

December 12, 2020

Celtic’s Neil Lennon has opened up on the absence of Shane Duffy.

The on-loan defender has been well off it since his arrival at Celtic Park. Ahead of Celtic’s crucial clash with Kilmarnock on Sunday, Lennon has made it clear that time out of the side has done Duffy some good.

Duffy was included for Celtic’s 3-2 win over Lille on Thursday. Although the Bhoys conceded twice on the night, the Irishman looked more sure of himself.

With Frimpong being taken off at the half hour mark, Jullien and Duffy defended the middle, while Ajer deputised at right back.

 

Shane Duffy vs Lille / (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Out of the line of fire

In quotes attributed to Glasgow Live, Lennon said:

“The little break out of the team has done him the world of good and he’s come back reinvigorated.

“I thought he played well the other night. He did what he had to do, he got his head on the ball, made some good blocks and was really physical.

“It’s been really tough for him with the amount of criticism he’s had to take. He has probably been taken aback because he’s probably not used to it.

“He’s worked really hard behind the scenes. I’ve told him to stop being so hard on himself.”

 

Shane Duffy in action against Sparta Prague / (Photo by RUSSELL CHEYNE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Could Duffy help Celtic?

If Lennon is right, then fair to play to Shane Duffy. The expectations at a club like Celtic are enormous, whether fans are present at matches or not.

As a self-professed fan of the club, the Irishman will have wanted to hit the ground running. Instead, his Looney Tunes defending left Celtic constantly vulnerable.

His positioning, concentration and strength in the tackle have all been questionable. It’s not the first time his mentality and intelligence have been questioned during his career (BBC).

There’s still every chance that Duffy could figure things out with Celtic this season. Next to Jullien, the Celtic defence looked more assured of itself. Lille’s first goal was bizarre; the second was predictable.

Set-piece problems aside, the defending in open play was much better than we’ve seen in recent matches.

The real test now is maintaining some positive consistency in the league. Whether or not Duffy is part of it, Celtic have to defend with more authority. If Celtic can turn things around and win the 10, it’ll be all the sweeter for the Irish international.