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Duff departure could be a chance for former Celtic stars to step up

© SNSStephen McManus
Stephen McManus

Celtic are looking at the possibility of replacing Damien Duff internally, with Darren O’Dea and Stephen McManus among the candidates.

Duff is quitting his post as one of Neil Lennon’s coaching assistants after landing a similar role with the Republic of Ireland’s senior squad.

The 41-year old, who was capped 100-times by the Republic as a player, is highly rated in the game, with the Hoops boss frank about the impact his departure will have on the club.

Neil Lennon says Damien Duff will be tough to replace at Celtic Park

“Damien will be difficult to replace, that’s for sure,” said Lennon.

“I spoke to him on Monday and he was in good spirits, but he’ll join the FAI. It’s a blow because he contributed immensely and I got on great with him.

“His contract doesn’t run out until the end of June, so if we come back on the 10th, we might have him until the end of the month, which could buy us time to look to bring someone in or promote from within.

“We were waiting on everything getting called first and then look to replace him. But it’s not at the forefront of our minds as we’ll have plenty of time to see what we’ll do.”

Darren O’Dea

O’Dea and McManus, both former Celtic players, are currently employed by the club as Under-18s manager and reserve-team coach respectively.

Lennon, meanwhile, also confirmed the lockdown is not preventing the Hoops from working away on negotiations with their soon-to-be out-of-contract players, with the likes of Jonny Hayes and Craig Gordon expected to move on.

“Talks are ongoing with representatives and the club,” he said.

“I don’t really know where we are at this stage. We have until the end of June to get agreements in place, one way or the other.”

And just as news of a slated June 10 return for training unofficially begins the build-up to Celtic’s tilt at what would be an unprecedented 10-in-a-row, the Hoops boss is already warming up for the long, hard task of trying to keep things in perspective.

“The supporters have been talking about 10 for a few seasons. But we have to take it as another campaign,” he said.

“The priority is always the league. Nine was a great season for us and we are really happy with how that went.

“For me, getting the ninth title was massive, so to get it over the line the pressure has lessened a little bit for next season.

“Whether it has increased for the players, psychologically, we will have to wait and see.

“Inside the club, we won’t talk too much about the number, and focus on what we have been doing for the last nine years and that’s being consistent and winning the league.”

“We want to build on that and try to improve.

“We want to make inroads in Europe as well, so that and the league are the priorities for us.

“There will be a lot of talk and anticipation going into the new season, so hopefully we can get back to playing soon.”