LEIGH GRIFFITHS can save Celtic a whopping £10million in the transfer market.
That’s the verdict of former Hoops striker Chris Sutton, Martin O’Neill’s first signing for the club in the summer of 2000 when he arrived for a-then club record fee of £6million from Chelsea.
Sutton hopes Griffiths can come roaring back to his goalscoring best following a troubled personal spell of depression that saw him claim a meagre six strikes last season while failing to feature in the first team after the turn of the year.
The 28-year-old Scotland international frontman netted six times during the eight-in-a-row champions’ three-game warm-up in Austria and Switzerland.
Sutton, speaking in the Daily Record, said “Leigh Griffiths is showing that he retains all of his old natural instincts for scoring goals.
“If he can somehow manage to get back to his blistering best it might turn out to be a huge shot in the arm for manager Neil Lennon and save Celtic an absolute fortune in this transfer market.
TON-UP BHOY…Leigh Griffiths claims his 100th Celtic goal against FK Sudova last August.
“Right now I don’t think there is any question the club needs another striker.
“Odsonne Edouard is talented, but inconsistent and Vakoun Issouf Bayo’s injury record since signing hasn’t been great. Only this week Lennon praised the Ivorian while explaining that he has picked up another injury.
“But Griffiths has it in his hands to change the scenario instantly.
“The Scotland striker couldn’t really have done any more during the pre-season tour of Austria and Switzerland.
“By scoring six goals in three friendly matches the hitman showed his natural ability for putting the ball in the net hasn’t been lost.”
Sutton, now a media pundit, added: “Celtic are going into the Champions League qualifiers next week with a run that goes for eight straight midweeks.
“That’s a tough run of games, yet Griffiths has shown in the past that he is up to the job. During the Brendan Rodgers era, he made some massive contributions during those key fixtures.
“You look back to the big goals he scored against the likes of Astana and Hapoel Be’er Sheva which propelled the champions into the group stage and it’s obvious he can make a mark in these Euro qualifiers.
“But let’s be perfectly honest here, it’s a massive ask for him at this stage of his comeback. It would be extremely tough for anyone to get back to their peak levels after such a long period out of the game.
PICK IT OUT…Leigh Griffiths looks back after netting a neat header past Hamilton Accies keeper Ryan Fulton.
“Hoping someone can do it in the space of a couple of months might just be too big an ask.
“When it comes to the situation Lennon finds himself in as he assesses his squad it might be the difference between having to spend £10million or not.
“If Griffiths can get back to his sparkling best in the coming weeks it solves a huge problem because it’s unclear whether or not the gaffer can really rely on the other two.
“Edouard has shown his talents in the past with big goals in big games, but I see matches where he looks almost lazy and floats round the periphery of things.
“Add to that a penchant for picking up injuries and it makes you think he can’t be fully relied upon, despite his outstanding natural talent.
“Bayo spent more time in the treatment room last term than he did on the park, which wasn’t hard.
“If Griffiths can get back to what we know he can do it will be huge for the club. Hand on heart, I really hope he does so because he’s obviously had a rough time.”
Although it was a campaign to largely forget for Griffiths, he still managed to register his 100th goal for the Hoops to become a Celtic Centurian.
His big moment arrived in the Europa League play-off against FK Sudova at Parkhead on August 30 when swept in a trademark free-kick in the 3-0 triumph.