CELTIC skipper Scott Brown is backing Leigh Griffiths to fire in the goals – if the striker gets the nod to start against Qarabag on Wednesday night.

Ronny Deila’s men are preparing for the visit of the Azerbaijanis for the first leg of the Champions League third-round qualifier at Parkhead – and Brown reckons Griffiths is worthy of a starting place.

The Scotland internationalist was overlooked for a start in both legs of the previous qualifying round against Icelandic side Stjarnan as Deila favoured new signing Nadir Ciftci – but five goals in his last three outings might just have pushed Griffiths into pole position.
Deila hinted after the hitman’s goal in the 2-0 friendly victory over Rennes that he might be go with him up front against Qarabag, and it is a decision that Brown would welcome.

The midfielder said: “Leigh has come off the bench and proved that he is a natural goalscorer. He will come off the bench and score goals all season if he has to.

“But, hopefully, he will get his chance because he will score goals. He is a natural goalscorer. I think he is probably the best finisher I have played with and it would be nice to see him get the nod.

“If Leigh is in the box with the ball at his left foot then nine times out of ten I would expect him to score.

“He is a fit lad. He is a worker and he is never out of the gym. He likes playing off the shoulder and I am sure he will be right up there in terms of goals again this season.”

Meanwhile, Brown has told his team-mates that now is the time to step up and prove they are worthy of a place in the group stages of Europe’s elite competition.

He added: “We are definitely a Champions League team. We are good enough to get there, but it is one thing to say it and another to do it. That is the real test. If we are good enough then this is the time for us to go out and prove it.

“These games are difficult. They are a test and you have to be ready for them. We know what it takes to get to the Champions League. The rewards are there, but you need to be good enough.”

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