Shamrock Rovers manager Pat Fenlon refused to be drawn on the potential signing of 100-times capped Republic of Ireland winger Damien Duff as he stressed the importance of keeping the focus on what is Rovers’ biggest match in three years.
It was widely reported yesterday that 36-year-old Duff has apparently chosen Rovers ahead of St Patrick’s Athletic to end his playing career, having returned with his family to Dublin earlier this year after a spell with Melbourne City in Australia.
The ex-Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea, Newcastle United and Fulham star is currently recuperating from an ankle injury and won’t be fit to play until next month.
“Does it?” mused Fenlon when asked if Duff’s signing appears to be done. “I read a lot about it in the papers this morning, but I don’t know where it has come from.
“For me, it’s important that we focus on the game (tonight). Whatever will happen down the road with players will happen. We need to focus on the game and really getting through this round and into the next round.”
When previously asked about the possibility of Duff signing, Fenlon had said that he had nothing in his budget to allow him bring in players. Getting through tonight’s Europa League clash with Progres Niederkorn brings Rovers an additional €210,000 from Uefa, however.
Pressed further on the Duff situation, Fenlon added: “I said at the time that anyone would be interested in a player of that calibre. I don’t think we’re any different to three or four other clubs who have expressed an interest.
“(But) European results would be more of a lift than signing any individual player. Making progress in Europe seems to be the only thing that excites people in this country.”
Fenlon works off the same squad as earned a 0-0 draw in Luxembourg last week as Keith Fahey, Stephen McPhail, skipper Conor Kenna and Ryan Brennan won’t be fit. Fenlon was frustrated at struggling to get information on Progrès ahead of last week’s first leg.
Rovers edged that game, creating a handful of chances in the first half and also hitting a post in stifling heat.
“I think we’ve got a lot more on them now and the players will be a lot more used to them,” added Fenlon.
“You are trying to give players information from DVDs. It’s easier after you were up against a player.
“Definitely, the game itself (first leg) has given us a little bit of an edge.”
Progres are without club captain, right-back Jonathan Rigo, who was injured in the first leg while left-back David Soares Marques is also out injured.
“I think it will be a difficult game,” said stand-in captain Ismael Bouzid.
“I know Irish football is testing football because they show a fighting spirit.
“We are ready to fight as well, but of course it will not be easy for the team.”
Shamrock Rovers (probable): Hyland; Madden, Webster, Clancy, Byrne; McCabe, Cregg; Waters, Miele, G. Brennan; Drennan.
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