Football/Soccer

Ireland boss Stephen Kenny backs Celtic's under-fire Shane Duffy

Celtic defender Shane Duffy has endured a lot of criticism in recent weeks

CELTIC’S under-fire defender Shane Duffy has received the backing of Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny, declaring that the big Derry man will be a resounding success at Parkhead.

Announcing his 26-man squad for this month’s international fixtures with England (friendly), Wales and Bulgaria (Nations League), Kenny said Duffy’s “warrior” spirit will see him overcome a sticky spell at his new club.

After a bright start at Celtic, Duffy struggled in games against Aberdeen and Rangers as well as against Lille in the Europa League with Scottish football pundit Davie Provan describing the on-loan defender from Brighton as “all over the place for Celtic”.

Kenny, however, provided some context for the centre back’s dip in form.

“Shane had one game in nine months for Brighton, against Liverpool, and came in and played the two games in the off season. He still gave it everything; got an equaliser against Bulgaria but he was rusty by all accounts because he hadn’t played.

“In the three games, we’ve hardly conceded any chances… The back four was excellent…

“And, bear in mind, he had to fly to Slovakia, playing 120 minutes, come back, an early kick-off on Sunday [for Celtic], all that went on around all of that with players ruled out, get through that, get back on a plane to Finland. He had to be finding it hard with three games in six days but he still gave it everything and he was excellent.”

Kenny also revealed Duffy underwent a “major dental procedure” that kept him awake the night before the Old Firm clash, which Rangers won 2-0, before going straight into the Milan and Aberdeen games the following week.

“Shane is a tough character,” added the Ireland manager.

“There is a saying in Derry: 'Take your oil'. Sometimes you have to accept criticism and show your qualities. The criticism isn’t even warranted. I don't agree with it. He made a mistake against Aberdeen but his performances were quite good when he went there first. It was a tough run for him, with the three games for us and the travelling.”

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Football/Soccer