KENNY DALGLISH reckons “it must have been a difficult call” for Ange Postecoglou to trigger the 12-month clause on Leigh Griffiths’ contract.
However, the Celtic, Liverpool and Scotland legend also insists the striker, who will turn 31 next month, still possesses the penalty-box qualities to pay back the trust of the new Hoops boss.
Griffiths looked to be heading for the Parkhead exit after a disappointing campaign where he claimed only seven goals after a false start to the season following a public fall-out with Neil Lennon.
The frontman’s fitness levels were questioned by the ex-gaffer who axed him from his squad for the four-game pre-season warm-up in France. The player was left to train on his own at Lennoxtown.
However, Dalglish still has confidence in the forward’s ability and said: “Leigh Griffiths should probably still be able to claim the main striker role this season and it shouldn’t be beyond him to be a proper asset to the team and bang in the goals.
“His ability to put the ball in the back of the net has never been in doubt. It’s other stuff that led to his downfall last season, stuff that was well-documented.
“Ange Postecoglou has decided to give him the benefit of the doubt by handing him a new one-year contract at Celtic.
“I’d imagine it must have been a difficult call for the new Parkhead manager to make, even if the deal is on vastly-reduced terms and heavily incentive-based.”
Dalglish, speaking to the Sunday Post, added: “The ball is very much now in Leigh’s court and it’s up to him to make the most of this opportunity.
“I’m sure Ange would have spoken to many people – such as coaches John Kennedy and Gavin Strachan – about Leigh and watched over lots of video footage before deciding to give the go-ahead to the new contract.
“The archives would have been full of Leigh’s goals and there is no doubt his stats are impressive since he was signed for Celtic by Neil Lennon for around £1 million from Wolves.
“That will every much be the view of Ange and Leigh will be under scrutiny at the training camp at Celtic Manor when they head to Wales.”
Griffiths has struggled to make an impact over the past three years after his admission he had “private issues” to combat. His tally of 25 goals over that period is a poor return for a player who collected 40 in Ronny Deila’s second season in 2015/16.
Now he will get the opportunity to show everyone he still has that cutting edge that made him a favourite with the Celtic support.