Damien Duff heeds Celtic warning as Shelbourne boss admits he's wary of European tussle in Gibraltar

Damien Duff is heeding the warning from Celtic's shock Champions League defeat in Gibraltar ahead of Shelbourne's European return.

The former Parkhead coach is ready to lead the Irish side into their first European adventure for 18 years with his troops ready to square up against St Joseph’s in the first leg of their Europa Conference League first-round tie at Tolka Park on Thursday. Rangers have previously faced off against the minnows in qualifying while the Hoops suffered an almighty shock against Lincoln Red Imps in Brendan Rodgers' first game as boss during his first stint in a Champions League qualifier on the road. The Scottish champions turned the tie around at home to progress in the tie but with his side favourites to progress, Duff is wary of the task facing his side.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Duff explained: “Are we expected to win? Probably, but I don’t even look at that. I’ll fully respect the opponent. They have Gibraltar internationals in their team and Ireland have struggled historically against Gibraltar. Teams do struggle over there. So our home game is absolutely massive.

“I think Brendan Rodgers’ first game at Celtic, they lost 1-0 to the Imps. So I know how difficult it is. I’ve watched the Ireland games there, I know the type of games they are, the ball is hardly in play, it’s like a game of basketball at times. Like I said, it’s two legs, it’s over 180 or 200 minutes and it starts this week in Tolka.

“Granted, you are saying we are favourites, but we – myself and the lads – will not disrespect them at all. They are dogged and they work hard, they are very similar to us, hard to break down. So our attacking play will have to be on point, and I’m sure it will be because there is such excitement about it. People talk about pressure etc, but I don’t feel it. I’m sure we’ll bounce into next Thursday.”

Shelbourne host the first leg at home this coming Thursday before facing off in the return the following week. For Duff and Co to reach the group stages they will need to advance through four two-legged ties.