Shane Duffy hints at extending his Celtic stay so he can play in front of fans
Defender talks of “coming back” if Covid-19 rules out the return of supporters this season
However much Shane Duffy immerses himself in all things Celtic and however successful the Derry man may prove to be, he knows the Covid-19 age could still leave him bereft.
The ban on large gathering necessitated by a global pandemic on the rise once more has the capacity to deny the season-long loanee from Brighton the opportunity to play in front of a support desperate to hail a Republic of Ireland captain they adore for being one of their own.
The 28-year-old can see only one possible solution if the virus, God forbid, is not quelled across the next eight months. “I might just have to come back,” he joked of how he would be left feeling if fans are denied access to games throughout the season. Duffy has never ruled out staying beyond his loan period but he is offering up invocations that he doesn’t require to sign permanently to sample the crackling atmospheres Celtic have traditionally performed in wherever they have played.
‘I haven’t been able to experience the full thing yet through a full stadium or even a packed-out away end,” said Duffy. “It’s a real disappointment for me obviously, but that’s just the world we live in now. I’m hoping all this madness goes away and I can really enjoy Celtic Park as the special place that it is. I’m hoping and praying all this will be done before the end of the season.”
Duffy is hoping to claim the first four winners’ medals of his 11-year career this season – a possibility because two Scottish Cups are to be contested because of the curtailment of last season. Yet in joining a club on a record run of 11 straight domestic successes – never mind chasing an historic 10th straight title – he refuses to get hung up on the fact the only way is down for his Celtic team compared to those from the past three faultless seasons.
“My mentality is that I don’t think like that at all, I’m quite a positive guy,” Duffy said. “I have a winning mentality where I’m coming in to try and improve the squad, and not lose it. It hasn’t come into my head at all. Obviously that would be a worst case scenario and it would be a nightmare really. But that’s what I’m thinking about. I’m here to be a success.”
Much as it will surprise Gary Breen to hear, the 35-times capped Irish international is also in Scotland to progress his game and career. Duffy has no interest in getting into a slagging match with the former Republic midfielder over his assessment that the Celtic loanee would develop “bad habits” that would threaten his place in the Ireland squad by playing in a two-bit league, to slightly paraphrase. Not least because the pundit has been complimentary about him in the past, Duffy pointed out. He feels, though, that Breen is certainly off beam.
“That’s his opinion but obviously he doesn’t really know me personally or he’d know I’m not the kind of player who would drop his standards,” Duffy said. “Playing for a club like Celtic you can’t drop your standards or you don’t play and you don’t win leagues. So I think it’s been a great move for me. Coming up here will help me push on and improve my game more than anything.
“Down south I would be sitting deep and digging in. But I’m getting on the ball quite a bit now and defending higher up the pitch. If I can add that to my game I’m hoping it’s going to make me a better player, not pick up bad habits.”
Republic manager Stephen Kenny is certainly comfortable with the switch having spoken to his captain favourably about it.
“He was delighted because he knows it’s a different kind of game up here,” said Duffy about his conversation with the former Dunfermline manager. “Rather than sitting deep and trying to defend a lot I’m going to be on the ball and defending a high line. It’s better for my game to learn these things and add to my game and also get the mentality of winning games every week. So he was delighted.”
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