Celtic manager Neil Lennon has accused former Republic of Ireland international Gary Breen of “embarrassing” himself over his suggestions that Shane Duffy’s place in the Irish side he captains has been placed under threat by the defender’s move to Scotland.
In a radio interview at the weekend, Breen said that Duffy, on a season-long loan from Brighton, “could pick up bad habits” operating in a set-up where he wouldn’t face a single striker good enough to feature in an English Premier League game. Breen claimed Virgil van Dijk had picked up bad habits playing in Scotland with Celtic ahead of his move to Southampton before he then joined Liverpool for £75 million, a world record transfer fee for a defender at the time.
As he prepared his team for their trip to face St Mirren on Wednesday, Lennon accused former midfielder Breen - who represented the Republic at the 2002 World Cup finals while playing in the English second tier with Coventry City - of displaying ignorance on two fronts. He believes the glib assessment betrays a lack of understanding of the football scene north of the border and Celtic’s success in molding players capable of thriving at the highest level.
“Gary needs to educate himself better before he starts coming out with these sweeping generalisations about the Scottish game,” Lennon said. “There are a lot of big players in the Premier League down south who came from this division.
“Kieran Tierney and Virgil Van Dijk have done all right for themselves and we still have some good players up here – look at Kristoffer Ajer, Christopher Jullien, Greg Taylor and Hatem Elhamed. They’re all top players at a great stage in their career with a huge club. So I think Gary has it totally wrong, he’s completely misread the situation and it’s a bit embarrassing for him, really.
“I think this is a great move for Shane; it’ll be good for his profile, good for his international status and he has an international manager [in Stephen Kenny] who worked in Scotland and who knows the pressures which come with playing for Celtic.
“Gary is just the latest in a long list of people who’ve made comments about the game up here which have been totally wrong.”
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