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Dublin: 5°C Thursday 13 May 2021

Hendrick: Duffy 'will be loved' by Celtic fans

Hendrick, meanwhile, says he is 100% in spite of not playing a competitive game for almost six months.

Duffy and Hendrick during an Irish training session in 2019.
Duffy and Hendrick during an Irish training session in 2019.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

JEFF HENDRICK SAYS Celtic fans will “love” Shane Duffy following today’s confirmation of the defender’s loan move to Scotland.

Hendrick was speaking on a Zoom call with journalists ahead of tomorrow’s Nations League opener with Bulgaria [KO 7.45pm, Sky Sports], and he heralded his team-mate’s move. 

“Yeah, he’s excited. He’s a Celtic fan, it’s a massive club, a massive fanbase, it’s gonna be different for him. Playing in England he’s used to English football, but going up there will be great for him.

“I think he’s going to be loved, he’s a great player and gives everything to the team, and those fans up there that’s what they want to see, and 10 in a row would be something special for him.” 

Duffy has joined the club on loan for the 2020/21 season from Brighton, and will be part of Celtic’s pursuit of a tenth-straight Scottish league title. 

Hendrick has also been on the move this summer, and has joined Newcastle on a permanent deal following the expiration of his contract at Burnley.

Burnley didn’t play any of their out-of-contract players post-lockdown, meaning Hendrick goes into tomorrow’s international game having last played on 7 March, his longest-ever spell without a game. 

“Of course, it was different obviously, because when the lockdown came in there was nothing to watch, so it was just a weird time.

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“I think everyone turned to box sets or whatever they could and then once the football got back and I wasn’t finishing the league off, it was hard to watch as the games were on every day, it was exciting – obviously not as exciting as it would be with the fans, but there were games and as a player you always want to play.

“So it was different. It was hard, but thankfully it sort of flew and thankfully I was able to get myself sorted and get back into training, and into the routine.” 

Hendrick says he is fully fit to play in Sofia tomorrow night should he be selected, and should Robbie Brady and James McCarthy return to the team, the trio will play together for only the second time since Euro 2016.

“It worked really well four years ago. Then it’s obviously not nice that we got only one chance to play together again. The lads have had tough times with injuries, but they’re both back fit now.

“Obviously there are other good players as well for those positions in the squad, but I think it’s brilliant to have Robbie back and to have James back.

“I’ve really enjoyed playing with James. I think he’s a great player and he’s just been unlucky with a lot of injuries.” Hendrick was coy on the role Kenny wants him to play, though it’s likely to be as an advanced midfieder as McCarthy is expected to play as the deepest-lying of a midfield three. 

“I’m not giving too much away, but obviously he’s worked on his formation and the way he wants us to play.

“The deep player is in there to help start the plays, but whether it’s me or whoever playing in the more advanced [role], they’ve got to be disciplined to stay away a little bit and keep the room for the deep player and you’ve got to trust him to get us on the ball.” 

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Gavin Cooney

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