Duff set to seal Rovers switch

Damien Duff is expected to end speculation on his future by finalising a move to Shamrock Rovers this week.

Duff set to seal Rovers switch

It’s understood talks between Duff and Hoops manager Pat Fenlon have concluded successfully, with an announcement on his signing likely over the next 48 hours.

Bookies Paddy Power last night suspended betting on Tallaght Stadium becoming the base for the 36-year-old to finish out a playing career that has included two Premier League winning seasons at Chelsea.

St Patrick’s Athletic boss Liam Buckley had also registered an interest in recruiting Duff since the 100-times capped attacker confirmed in March his intention of returning to his homeland in time for the July transfer window.

Wage demands have played no part in Duff’s decision to choose Rovers over Pat’s.

“I’m not in it for the money; it’s for the joy of playing the game,” he insisted recently.

Rovers fans will have to be patient in awaiting their new signing’s availability, as he’s in the final stages of regaining fitness following surgery on the ankle he injured during his final game for Australian club Melbourne City in February.

Intensive rehabilitation work, overseen by Ireland team doctor Alan Byrne, has helped Duff reach the stage where early next month is a probable time for his return.

Should Rovers see off Progres Niederkorn in tomorrow’s Europa League second leg, following last week’s stalemate in Luxembourg, and negotiate the next round, their marquee new recruit would be fit for the third qualifying round.

Duff hasn’t let the down-time from his injury lay-off go to waste. He’s spent the past fortnight undertaking the first rung on the coaching ladder with the Uefa B license course in Dublin’s AUL complex.

Duff’s former Ireland teammate Shay Given is also working on his coaching qualifications and says he longs to continue in football once he retires from playing.

The 39-year-old begins the 23rd pre-season of his career on Wednesday at Aston Villa but refused to say if this season will be his last.

“I just want to play football as long as I can so hopefully it’s not my last,” Given said yesterday in Drumoghill, where he officially opened the Donegal League club’s new pitch at the Moss ahead of a friendly match against a Finn Harps select.

“Hopefully, I can stay fit this season and play more. I want to play more. I’ve done some coaching badges already — I’ve got my Uefa A License and my B Licence.

“I’d like to stay involved in football as football is all I’ve known my whole life.”

Given’s close season was a brief one having lined out for the Republic of Ireland in their Euro 2016 qualifier against Scotland only three weeks ago.

“I’ve only been away a couple of weeks since the Scottish game and am still itching to get back again,” he added.

“I don’t think that will ever leave me. Even today in Drumoghill you’re wishing them well and they’re playing Finn Harps. I nearly wish I was pulling on the boots myself because it’s ingrained in my blood.

“If you can’t play then the next thing is management or playing. It would be lovely to finish off with Ireland in a major tournament again, where we give a good account of ourselves.

“Fairytales don’t always happen in football. You look at Steven Gerrard and he was going to reach the FA Cup final on his birthday and then we ended up beating them in the semi-finals. There’s no fairytales in football. You have to work hard to try and get the right result.

“Hopefully we can go and do that to get the chance to play in France next year.

“We’re going to have to get something from the last two games, which are against Germany and Poland. It might be out of our own hands now but there’s still a lot of points to play for and we have to believe we can do it. It’s looking like a play-off at best.

“But there’s twists in the tale and with Germany being the world champions you would have to think they will click into gear. Poland have looked pretty sharp. We got a tough group to be honest. We have to believe we have a chance.

“Martin O’Neill has given me the nod and I’m delighted to be playing and delighted to be back in Dublin for the big qualifiers. But the bottom line is that you want to qualify for the big championships.

“I don’t want to come back just to win a few more caps. I want to come back and contribute to the team and try and get us to France next year.”

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