CELTIC fans will soon see the best of Shane Duffy – that’s the verdict of his Brighton pal Glenn Murray.
The Republic of Ireland international was on the receiving end of some brutal and scathing criticism as the champions stuttered through four games without a win before steadying the ship against Aberdeen at the weekend.
Duffy played his part in the 2-0 win over the Dons that put the Hoops into a Scottish Cup Final meeting with Hearts at Hampden on December 20 and edged them closer to an unprecedented quadruple treble.
The 28-year-old central defender is on the verge of lifting his first piece of silverware with his lifelong favourites as a pre-Christmas present next month. And Murray is backing his big mate to deliver on the big stage.
Veteran frontman Murray, who joined Watford on loan at the same time as Duffy switched to Parkhead, told the Scottish Sun: “It doesn’t really matter who Shane is up against, he’s gobbled them up and spat them out.
“I’ve come up against him before and he always came out on top in that particular battle.
“Any aerial battles, he’s winning them. That’s a certainty. So, yes, Celtic have got themselves a defender, first and foremost. But also a defender who is very capable of playing with the ball.
“They’ve got themselves a leader, too. Someone who leads by example every day, who wants to win football games— and he did that at Brighton a lot over four years.
“Obviously, we came under a lot of pressure in games. And it was incredible the amount of times it was Shane who saved us, with him throwing himself in there with a last-ditch block. Another huge attribute is his heading in the opposition box, as well. You’ve already seen that with his two goals early on.”
Murray, 37, insisted Duffy’s role in the game has taken on an entirely different domension. He added: “It does take time to settle in to a different environment for everyone.
“Shane’s obviously moved from Brighton, where he was settled and quite happy, and gone to new surroundings and team-mates.
“It affects everyone in different ways. It’s a very individual thing. It’s a different type of football, definitely. And a different type of pressure, too.
“Our pressure was to remain in the Premier League. Now, suddenly, he’s in a different league and at a different end of the table.
“He’s in a team which enjoys the majority of possession and is looking to win the title, so the job in hand is very different for him.
“I’m sure he will become settled in the city and you will start seeing the best of him.”
Duffy will be in action again tomorrow night when the Hoops take on Sparta Prague at Parkhead in their third outing in Europa League Group H. A win is a must after losing 3-1 to AC Milan a fortnight ago and earning a point against Lille in the 1-1 draw in France last week.
The Irish rock will be more than willing to play his part.