Shane Duffy: Celtic boss addresses criticism for under-fire defender

The finger-pointing over recent Celtic failures has resulted in much digit-stabbing towards Shane Duffy.

Celtic's Shane Duffy looks dejected during 3-1 Europa League loss to AC Milan on Thursday (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Celtic's Shane Duffy looks dejected during 3-1 Europa League loss to AC Milan on Thursday (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The on-loan Brighton defender was supposed to be an old-school centre-back who would prove a magnet for balls in both boxes. Instead, when aerial prowess was demanded against Rangers and AC Milan, the Republic of Ireland captain was found wanting. The disquiet over Duffy among supporters has meant the fanfare that accompanied his arrival being replaced by noises off. Even if, ahead of the international break, it is forgotten that he was central to a run of four clean sheets.

Neil Lennon is in no doubt that the 28-year-old, whose confidence suddenly looks desperately low, will rediscover the command that prompted his recruitment. A command Celtic have lacked without the unfairly maligned Christopher Jullien, now in Germany receiving “round the clock” treatment on a back injury it is feared could keep him out till Christmas. The pressure that has placed on Duffy appears to be wearing him down.

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“Shane will revel in that eventually,” said Lennon. “But he's only just in the door. He's been thrown in without any real pre-season. He'll get better and better – and he'll be a stalwart for the team. The criticism on the team is justified at times, I get it. But some of it on individual players is unfair. People are looking at every nuance of every player. But you don't get the perfect player or perfect team.

“Shane didn't play any football for nine months. All of a sudden, he's played 14 games in about five weeks. He played all of the games for Ireland then he had an abscess in his mouth that was giving him a lot of pain. He flew back into Glasgow last Thursday and had some emergency dental work and we had to roll him out there on Saturday against Rangers. He played on Thursday but we're curtailed in that he's got no [Nir] Bitton, Jullien or [Hatem Abd] Elhamed beside him. In the main, his performances have been pretty consistent. I know he's under a bit of scrutiny because people are looking at him for some of the goals we've lost. But we can't pin that on Shane. As the season unfurls and goes along, he'll play a huge part. And he's a good type as well.”

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