Serbia v Republic of Ireland: Irish skipper Coleman backs Duffy for Belgrade qualifier

Seamus Coleman pointed out that Shane Duffy has lost his father during the pandemic
Shane Duffy (right) has captained the Republic of Ireland during Seamus Coleman's absence over the last year

Seamus Coleman has urged Republic of Ireland defender Shane Duffy's critics to cut him some slack going into his country's new World Cup campaign.

Duffy has lost his first-team place at Celtic but will hope to start his country's opening qualifier against Serbia in Belgrade on Wednesday night.

Republic skipper Coleman is in little doubt as to what Duffy will contribute if he is selected by Stephen Kenny.

"Shane Duffy is a warrior, Shane Duffy is a leader," said Coleman.

"I think all us Irish people have seen that over the years with his performances.

"He's not had the easiest time over in Scotland. I've watched the games that he's played and I don't think Shane Duffy is the reason why things aren't going the way they wanted up there, there's a lot of other reasons, I'm sure, for it."

Duffy's father passed away last summer

The Everton full-back also pointed out that Duffy lost his beloved father last summer.

"Not long after his dad died, he was straight back on a plane for Brighton and straight up to Celtic, and they're the little things that I don't think people take into account.

"I don't know if he will even have had the opportunity to mourn his dad properly.

"For me, a lot of that has to be taken into account too, and we all need to bear that in mind because the lad would do anything for his club or his country.

"He doesn't sulk, he's a great character around the place, he's a warrior and he had a tough time, and jumped on a plane to get back to work, maybe quicker than most people would, so I think Shane Duffy has done enough.

"He has enough credit in the bank for his country for us to keep supporting him."

Stephen Kenny will hand the goalkeeping jersey to Mark Travers with Darren Randolph and Caoimhe Kelleher both ruled out by injury
The Republic have yet to win under Kenny and have managed only one goal in his eight games in charge

Travers to start in goal for Republic

Should Duffy get the nod, he will line up in front of 21-year-old keeper Mark Travers, who will win his third senior cap with Darren Randolph and Caoimhin Kelleher sidelined by injury.

But with Ireland having failed to score in the last seven of their eight games to date under Kenny, none of which they have won, there will be as much emphasis placed on what happens at the other end of the pitch.

The manager said: "You look at a team like Liverpool, with the forwards that they have, they went a right number of games without scoring. It can happen to a team.

"I think it will be something that we will address soon enough. We need to address it quickly and we've got the game against Serbia.

"We've hit the post quite a bit and hit the bar, so we need to just take our chances when they come."

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