FORMER Celtic midfielder Kris Commons reckons Leigh Griffiths will be a key man against Astana in the Champions League play-off on Wednesday night.
The ex-fans’ favourite, who left the club in the summer, predicts a 2-0 or 3-1 defeat for the Kazakhstan visitors – but only if the Scotland striker, hindered by a calf injury, is fit enough to play.
Commons said: “I think they will struggle with the scoring side of things. If Griffiths is fit, 2-0 or 3-1. I think they’ll score plenty of goals.”
It’s just over a year since the Hoops knocked out the same opponents on a 3-2 aggregate with the little hitman claiming two of the goals, one a penalty-kick in Glasgow.
However, with Moussa Dembele ruled out until next month with hamstring problems and Griffiths not 100 per cent, Brendan Rodgers has been forced to play wingers James Forrest and Scotty Sinclair and midfielder Tom Rogic in the spearhead role in recent outings.
Griffiths will be the main focus in the first goalscorer market at places like www.online-betting.org with many supporters looking for him to play a significant goalscoring role in achieving the 2-0 or 3-1 scoreline predicted by his old team-mate Commons.
Paddy Roberts was a successful stand-in while the Manchester City winger was on loan last season and the six-in-a-row champions are, of course, trying to secure his services again.
Asked who he would put in the problem position, Commons replied: “Probably James Forrest because he has a willingness and eagerness to run in behind.
“I think he can stretch teams that will give space to the likes of Sinclair, Rogic and Stuart Armstrong.
“Brendan knows how vital are these two games. If Leigh Griffiths is 80% fit, let’s keep him on the bench and let’s try to get him up to 90-95 and give him a realistic chance of leading the line and scoring goals.
“I think he’s got a blend of good attacking players, but as a focal point in these big games, you need a proper number nine and Leigh Griffiths is your number nine.”
Episode 8 of ‘A Celtic State of Mind’ finds Paul John Dykes and Kevin Graham discussing a variety of topical subjects concerning Celtic Football Club, including:
* The quest for 7-in-a-row begins;
* Jozo Šimunović: Made of Stone;
* The Champions League – Astana preview;
* James Forrest: The enigma;
* Nir Bitton – Case for the defence.
This week’s big interview is with legendary Scottish football broadcaster, Archie Macpherson, who speaks about Jock Stein, Neilly Mochan, Charlie Tully and John McPhail, as we approach the 60th anniversary of the 7-1 game.
50,000 Celtic fans can’t be wrong…
Connect with A Celtic State of Mind @PaulDykes and @CQNMagazine and listen to the new podcast at the following link: