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NICHOLAS PINPOINTS DUFFY DILEMMA

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CHARLIE NICHOLAS insists Shane Duffy is a bad fit at Celtic.

The Republic of Ireland international centre-back arrived on a season-long loan from Brighton at his lifelong heroes in the summer.

Duffy, 28, scored goals in Premiership wins over Ross County and St Mirren, but has taken flak for his recent performances as the champions have stuttered, conceded eight goals in three games, dropped five out of six league points and started the Europa League Group H campaign with a 3-1 home loss against AC Milan.

Two-time Celtic striking star Nicholas, speaking to the Daily Express, said: “The onus was on Celtic to make themselves stronger over the summer and to be able to adapt to a 3-5-2 or 4-4-2, or any other formation.

“Lennon seems to prefer a back three, but he has brought in players who don’t necessarily perform best in that formation.

“Shane Duffy is one of them. He looks lost in a back three.

“This was a guy who was signed as a big, physical presence who would bully strikers. However, Celtic DON’Tneed a bullying centre-half – they need a ballplaying one.”

Christopher Jullien, who partnered Kristoffer Ajer in the middle of the rearguard last season following his £7million arrival from Toulouse, is currently out of action with a back injury which is now being examined by specialists in Germany.

In his enforced absence – and that of Nir Bitton and Hatem Abd Elhamed due to coronavirus issues – Lennon is likely to select Duffy again for the match in France against Lille on Thursday night.

Nicholas added: “The manager insists there is no panic, but if they lose to Lille and get knocked out of the Scottish Cup – killing their hopes of a fourth successive treble in the process – then it would transform the whole outlook of the season.

“That would put things under serious review – and I’m not referring to Neil Lennon’s job.

“I mean, who is the manager going to trust in terms of his players and the formation he deploys?

“There is a long way to go in the title race.

“This is not the time to hit the panic button, but Lennon has a lot of pressure on him because there are five or six players in his starting line-up who aren’t doing the business.”

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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