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Duffer to Shamrock Rovers? 'I don’t know where it has come from,' says Fenlon

The Hoops boss is more focused on tomorrow night’s Europa League qualifier than speculation about a possible new signing.

Pat Fenlon spoke to the media at Tallaght Stadium this afternoon.
Pat Fenlon spoke to the media at Tallaght Stadium this afternoon.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

TALK WAS RIFE this morning that Shamrock Rovers were on the verge of adding a third ex-senior Ireland international to their ranks.

But manager Pat Fenlon wasn’t letting rumours about Damien Duff distract him as he has more pressing matters to attend to.

A number of the daily newspapers reported that the legendary Irish winger had agreed to join the Hoops. The 36-year-old ex-Chelsea star, who has regularly expressed wish to play League of Ireland football before retiring, has returned home after a brief stint with Melbourne City was ended prematurely by injury.

He has been regaining his fitness while also undertaking his Uefa B coaching badges and attended the recent meeting of St Patrick’s Athletic and Longford Town at Richmond Park as part of an assignment.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow night’s Europa League first round qualifying second leg against Progres Niederkorn in Tallaght (8pm), however, Fenlon was keen to focus on the task at hand, insisting the speculation about Duff is wide of the mark.

“I’ve read a lot of the papers this morning but I don’t know where it has come from,” Fenlon said. “For me, today is important to make sure we’re focused on tomorrow. That’s all it is for us and whatever will happen down the road with players will happen.

But we need to focus on the game, getting through this round and into the next.

“I said before, I think anybody would be interested in a player of that calibre. I don’t think we’re any different to three or four other clubs that have probably expressed an interest where we are at the moment.”

Damien Duff Duff was released by Melbourne City back in May. Source: Photosport/Marty Melville/INPHO

It is four years since Rovers became the first League of Ireland club to reach the group stages of the Europa League under Michael O’Neill and Fenlon believes it would be an enormous boost for football in this country if they could do something similar.

It lifted the league and at the moment we could do with another lift from all the clubs that are playing and please God they all progress,” he said.

“The run Rovers went on a few years ago was fantastic and to get the group stages of any competition from our league takes a bit of doing, so the players at the time should be given credit for that.

“We’ve got to go and make our own history and get ourselves into the next round.

“We need a lift with the negative publicity around the league at the moment and I think the European results would do that. Making progress seems to be what gets people excited about the League of Ireland.”

Kieran Waters with David Soares Kieran Marty Waters takes on Progrès Niederkorn David Soares during the first leg. Source: Fernand Konnen/INPHO

Just as they were for last week’s 0-0 first leg draw in Luxembourg, the Hoops head into the game without their two most experienced players as Stephen McPhail and Keith Fahey are nursing injuries, with both expected to be sidelined for the next month.

Gary McCabe joined Patrick Cregg in the centre of the park last Tuesday and the pair are likely to start there again tomorrow.

“Stephen and Keith are big losses,” said Fenlon. “They are quality players but also because of their experience as we’ve got some young boys in this team, with the likes of Brandon (Miele) and Mike (Drennan).

“We’ve got players with experience that can come in with Patrick and Gary so we have to make sure we get on with the job and hopefully we can get the two of them back as quickly as possible.”

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Ben Blake

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