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‘GREAT TO GET GRIFF BACK,’ INSISTS EX-BOSS

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GORDON STRACHAN still believes Leigh Griffiths can play a massive part in Celtic becoming History Bhoys.

The former Hoops boss has urged the 30-year-old Scotland international striker to get his career back on track and help to deliver an unparalleled tenth successive title.

Griffiths has not kicked a ball in competitive action in the first team since his hat-trick in the 5-0 win over St Mirren at Parkhead on March 7 – the final game last season before the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

A furious Neil Lennon was unhappy when the hitman returned overweight following four months of cold storage and left him out of the club’s three-game pre-season tour of France.

However, Griffiths returned to the substitutes’ bench for Sunday’s 3-0 win over Hibs in the east end of Glasgow – where £5million Swiss ace Albian Ajeti was forced to limp off after scoring the second goal, his fifth strike for the club.

Now the former West Ham man is odd-on to miss Thursday’s Europa League play-off against Sarajevo in Bosnia as well as Sunday’s Premiership trip to Perth to take on St Johnstone. He is also likely to be rated doubtful for the first Glasgow derby of the campaign against Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox outfit on October 17.

Strachan now believes it is time for Griffiths to stand up and be counted.

The former Scotland manager, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “Whatever goes on in the world of Leigh Griffiths, I still think he is a terrific player. Seriously.

“People might wonder where he goes from here, but it’s very simple, your career is determined by yourself.

“You might get help along the way, but it all comes down to what you are prepared to do for yourself.

“I still go back to the wonderful football Celtic were playing after Christmas when he was a threat. No matter where Edouard was, you always knew Griff would be on the shoulder of defenders looking for balls coming across the box.

“He’s grease lightning over 10 yards. And what that means is, after that first 10 yards, he can relax when he’s going in on goal.

“So, it’ll be great for Celtic to get Griff back in the mix along with Edouard, Ajeti and Patryk Klimala. That’s four good strikers to pick from.”

Strachan, who brought three flags to Parkhead in seasons 2006/07 and 08, added: “Ajeti is the kind of striker who thinks: ‘If I’m getting one chance. I’m taking it’.

“Of his five goals, I’m sure four of them have been one touch. It’s like: ‘I’m a goalscorer. All of you can be footballers if you want, but I’m here to score goals, If you want to be a football player, fine, But just stick it in here and I’ll score’.

“So, it’s a blow that he’s damaged his hamstring. It would be an even bigger blow for most other teams.

“But Neil Lennon turns round and goes: ‘Ajeti’s injured, I’ve got Edouard and Griffiths sitting over there, so things are not that bad!’.

“If you think about, when Celtic were at their best last year, they were the two who were playing. I’ll stick by my guns and say, Edouard is a good player whatever way you use him. But if you’ve got a striker like Grittiths up beside him.

“it allows him to go and float about on the edge of the box and score wonder goals.”

 
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