SHANE Duffy scored the goal that helped Celtic to record back-to-back victories for the first time since the opening week in October yesterday - and then spoke candidly about his personal torment at his difficult start to life at Parkhead.

Duffy rose and headed home a David Turnbull corner in the 70th minute of the Premiership match against Kilmarnock to ensure that Neil Lennon’s side, who had just taken the lead through Mohamed Elyounoussi, ran out 2-0 deserved winners.

It was a sweet moment for the Republic of Ireland internationalist - he was dropped from the first team by Lennon last month following a string of erratic defensive displays and only returned to the starting line-up against Lille on Thursday.

The Brighton loanee, who lost his father earlier this year, confessed that he has found it difficult to settle in Scotland amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but expressed confidence that he is finally ready to perform at the level he is capable of.

He admitted he had been touched by the support that Lennon has given him and revealed he was determined to repay his manager by helping Celtic to recover from their slump in form and enjoy a successful season.

The 41-times capped 28-year-old also dismissed speculation that he was set to cut short his loan and return to England – and claimed he would be “a coward” if he left as a result of the personal criticism he has received.

“It’s been tough,” he said. “It’s hard for me to explain because this isn’t the way I wanted things to go. I’m my own biggest critic, as well.

“It’s been tough, but you need to dig in. I’ve had a lot of tougher things that’s happened to me in my life and have coped. I know my form hasn’t been good enough, but I know I can come back stronger.

“The Celtic fans haven’t seen me before and since I’ve come into the club I haven’t been me. I get them, I understand the criticism. I wouldn’t be happy with myself either to be honest, if I was watching me play from the stands. I’m realistic and know what levels I can get to.

“I’ll just keep chipping away and it’ll need a lot more than this to keep me down. I’ve had a tough year and no-one really sees what goes on behind the scenes in people’s lives.

“Maybe I took things a little bit to heart and was trying too hard to do well here and not let everyone down. But it affected me when things weren’t going well and I was all over the show. That’s just me being honest.

“My dad as a massive part of my life. It’s hard as he was the one I’d speak to about everything in life. My two kids also live back in Derry and I’m up here alone. With the Covid restrictions I can’t really interact with the team as much as I’d like.”

Duffy added: “But I have a great manager here who has been brilliant with me. He knows all about it having been here any Celtic for so long and he knows what to do with me.

“He also knows what kind of player I am and how determined I am to bring something to this team. That’s why I’m not getting carried away. It’s been a good week, but I still have a lot more to show Celtic fans.

“The gaffer has been brilliant with me. I actually felt he took me out of the team at the right time because my form wasn’t good. He’s done the right thing by me and picked the time to bring me back in.

“The manager is a big reason why I came here because of the faith he showed in me to try and get me here. He’s been brilliant from the day that I walked into the club and gives you confidence.

“Listen, I wouldn’t have put myself out the way he did. He’s been great with me. He came around and he really cares about players and their emotions. He knows I was going through a tough time, I’ve really never had a manager like that before who would come around and care.

“How are you getting on life? How are you handling it up here? It meant a lot to me and I’’ll always respect him for that. Hopefully, I can repay him with some wins.”

Asked about reports he could return to Brighton after Christmas, Duffy said: “I don’t listen to that. I don’t know where it has come from. I’m here. It would be a coward of me to leave without producing. It’s not in me and I would never do that.”

Duffy admitted he had enjoyed being applauded in to Parkhead by Celtic fans before the Kilmarnock game. He is determined to give them more to cheer about in the Scottish Cup final against Hearts at Hampden on Sunday.

“Listen, there’s been ugly scenes and that’s not really what Celtic is about,” he said. “The stuff today with them backing you? It gives you goosebumps. I wish the stadium was full and I could really experience it, but I’m hoping I get the chance. It’s a special club with special supporters.

“We know they are always behind us. As any supporter is, there are frustrated as they know there is a lot more in the team and we haven’t shown it.

“We’ve had a terrible Europa League, the Rangers game and a couple of draws. They are frustrated and I understand it. I’ve grown up with it all my life. You just put it aside and get back to basics to try and get this team flowing again and get on a roll.

“Now the Hearts game is coming up is something to look forward to. I’m excited. Going to Hampden for the Scottish Cup Final. Hopefully, it’ll be my first trophy here. As I said, it’s step by step and game by game. The lads in there have confidence. We know if we are playing well, we can beat anyone.”