At just 28 Shane Duffy has no option but to make his Celtic loan a success

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Shane Duffy has endured a difficult start to his Celtic career with the Bhoys languishing in second, some nine points off Rangers albeit with two games in hand. Many Celtic fans would perhaps point to the defending of the team as the main contributor to this slow start and, unfortunately, quite literally at the heart of that assessment is Brighton loanee, Shane Duffy.

Over the course of 12 games, Celtic have let in 11 goals; which is eight more than leaders Rangers. Alarmingly, as mentioned, the Gers have played two games more which does lead you to believe that winning a tenth title in a row could be nigh on impossible if this Celtic defence doesn’t stop leaking goals. Initially, Duffy’s addition to the Celtic setup was seen as a real coup for Neil Lennon’s team after he signed on loan from Brighton for the season. But, in a matter of weeks, he has somehow ended up looking like a weak link, despite making 19 Premier League appearances last season.

Looking back though and in the Irishman’s defence, this is the first real hiccup he has had in a career, that has gone from strength to strength after joining the Seagulls from Blackburn Rovers in 2016. Tellingly, the English Championship odds suggest that the Rovers are in with a chance of promotion to the Premier League at 11/1. However, the truth is, had Duffy stayed at Ewood Park, they would have been promoted a lot sooner, as the season after he left, he was promoted with Brighton.

Indeed, Duffy’s impact at the Amex Stadium was instant after he marshaled the Seagulls’ defence superbly as they finished second and won promotion. Over the seasons that followed, the defender kept impressing and even earned himself a new lucrative five-year deal at the Amex in 2018.

The fact that Brighton ultimately moved him on to Celtic with three years left on his deal, had more to do with the change of manager and formation on the south coast than say, Duffy’s declining football ability. But his start at Parkhead doesn’t do that theory any justice, with many Celtic fans wondering how he cut it in the Premier League for so long.

There’s no getting away from it, the 28-year-old looks sluggish on the ball and is often giving it away thanks to some wayward passing from the back. Revealingly, Duffy’s body language does suggest that he may be battling some problems away from the field, and the untimely death of his father at just 53 in May of this year, could be the reason why.

Does this now mean Celtic and the Republic of Ireland fans aren’t allowed to voice their displeasure at his recent performances? Absolutely not; professional footballers are exceptionally well-remunerated and because of this, expected to turn up and disconnect themselves from any ongoing problems away from football when they cross the whitewash on match day.

But we all know that they are human as well, so should a player have a track record of being the model professional at a host of previous clubs, then chances are he will return to that level of performance sooner rather than later.

In Duffy’s case, at just 28-years-old, he has no choice but to find a way of finding his form again despite the anguish he may be feeling. If the centre-back has any ambition of playing down south again in the Premier League, then he can precious afford a failed loan at Celtic.

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