FORMER Celtic defender Mark Wilson reckons it is “a big risk” for Ange Postecoglou to trust striker Leigh Griffiths.
The new Hoops boss has had talks with the 30-year-old frontman about activating the remaining 12 months of his contract which is due to expire at midnight on Wednesday.
But Wilson wonders if Griffiths, who claimed a meagre total of seven goals in a wretched campaign last time out, has done enough to remain at the Parkhead side.
The one-time Scotland international right-back thought there was no way back for the misfiring hitman following a season where he did not play a solitary 90 minutes amid claims of being unfit – remarks that were refuted by the hitman in an extraordinary war of words with ex-gaffer Neil Lennon.
CAN’T BEAR TO LOOK…Leigh Griffiths covers his face after another miss in a dreadful campaign.
Wilson, who won five honours in his time at the club, said: “Leigh’s been giving his views over his situation in recent days.
“And I picked up on Neil Lennon responding strongly, having a go at him. The bottom line for me is Leigh will be very lucky to get another year at Celtic.
“But I’m getting a feeling now the whole situation is going to benefit his chances of staying.
“Before the break-up in the summer, I went on record making it clear Leigh’s time at Celtic was up. I thought he’d gone through too many managers who, more or less, had come to the same opinion of him — with concerns over fitness.
“It just built up into last season which was Leigh’s biggest disaster. His downturn in form, his lack of fitness, didn’t just cost him but the team also.
“So, I didn’t think there would be any way back for him. I just didn’t think he merited a new contract. It was self-inflicted. A wonderful player, I’m a big fan, but he’d left the impression he couldn’t be trusted when it really mattered.
“To then trust him again — with the need for a full rebuild — would appear to be a big risk.
HAMPDEN HERO…Leigh Griffiths celebrates Celtic’s third goal in the delayed Scottish Cup Final against Hearts.
“In saying that, however, with the carry on at Celtic for long enough — the uncertainty over who the manager was going to be, players leaving, the amount of signings required — I’m actually thinking he could now stay.”
Wilson, speaking to the Scottish Sun, added: “There’s a lot of positions up for grabs, uncertainty over top players such as Odsonne Edouard, it could make Postecoglou’s life a whole lot easier if they did give Griffiths another 12 months.
“Edouard could be out the door before Celtic even kick a ball in anger. That would leave Ange Postecoglou with a lack of striking options going into games during the summer — particularly in the Champions League qualifiers.
“The current lack of a head of recruitment also doesn’t help the manager in trying to get signings completed early doors. Griffiths hasn’t been great for a while — but he still has a track record of scoring goals and that has always been the big thing in his favour through everything.
“It’s the one element of his game that leads to people giving him the benefit of the doubt. And it may well be the same for Postecoglou. He will know that Griffiths is a goalscorer and it’s more about getting him to apply the right attitude.”