GARY Gillespie has described Republic of Ireland internationalist Shane Duffy as “the ideal fit” for Celtic - and tipped the Brighton loanee to flourish when he has adapted to the unique demands of the Scottish game.

Duffy has struggled to settle since joining the Parkhead club for the 2020/21 campaign back in September and hasn’t started a match since the 4-1 defeat to Sparta Prague in the Europa League in early November.

However, former Scotland centre half Gillespie, a £925,000 signing from Liverpool back in 1991, can recall how he took time to find his feet in Glasgow and is confident the defender will come good in time.

“It will take him time to adjust,” he said. “The game in Scotland is far more frenetic. That was certainly my experience when I joined Celtic from Liverpool. It wasn’t quicker, but it could be madder with players running about all over the pitch.

“It was a difficult league to play in. It was a hard change to go from a successful Liverpool side in England to playing for Celtic in Scotland.

“I thought Shane was an ideal fit for Celtic when he joined them, but he has struggled. Still, he is a seasoned pro and seems to me to be a good lad. Fingers crossed it will turn around for him.

“It isn’t easy. If you are winning football matches and beating Rangers you will be fine, but if you aren’t doing that people will point the finger and look for scapegoats. Shane has come under that microscope a little bit.”

Gillespie believes the fact that summer acquisitions like Albian Ajeti, Vasilis Barkas, Duffy and David Turnbull have taken time to find their feet has contributed to Celtic’s difficulties this term – but still feels they have a better squad than Rangers and can enjoy a successful campaign.

“Signings are always a calculated gamble, a calculated risk,” he said. “Some players will settle in really quickly, some won’t. In the modern game, certainly in the Premier League, recruitment is key.

“If you recruit well your manager reaps the rewards of that. If you don’t do that then the manager finds himself under a lot of pressure. You have spent a lot of money and that isn’t showing in performances on the field. Fans will always look at the signings, look at the money that has been spent, look at how much players are getting paid.

“But Celtic for me still have the better squad and the stronger squad. For some reason, that isn’t being reflected in their performances on the pitch at the moment. I think Celtic have greater strength in depth than Rangers have and that could be important as they go into the second half of the season.”