LEIGH GRIFFITHS insists Celtic are heading into a “defining period” so early in a crucial campaign.

A testing fortnight awaits with the champions facing a Europa League play-off double-header against AIK Stockholm and Premiership tussles against Hearts at Parkhead and Steven Gerrard’s team at Ibrox.

The Hoops, who take on the Swedes in Glasgow in their first leg of their Euro tie on Thursday, have come under fire following their Champions League exit against the Romanians of Cluj and their stuttering performance against Championship side Dunfermline at the weekend where it took a strike six minutes from the end of extra-time from James Forrest to earn a place in the Betfred League Cup quarter-final.

Griffiths, who has claimed three goals this term, issued a rallying call to his team-mates and the fans as the club prepare for action.

The comeback striker, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “It’s a huge couple of weeks for us. Obviously, the playoff against Stockholm is crucial and then we have Hearts at home and Rangers away.

“That’s a defining period.

“If we can get through those four games by qualifying for the Europa League and taking full points from the Premiership fixtures then we’ll be in good spirits.

“The alternative definitely doesn’t bear thinking about – if you flip the coin then we could be out of Europe and beaten at Ibrox and things become even worse.”

Griffiths added: “It’s a test of character, but the good things about being at a club as big as this one is that you always have a chance to make amends quickly.

“Okay, we won’t be in the biggest competition, but that’s gone and now we need to make a real statement about how good a team we are.

“We’ve been written off before. Last year, we were eliminated from the Champions League by AEK Athens and we bounced back to win the treble treble.

“So, people shouldn’t be writing us this time, either.”

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