LEIGH GRIFFITHS is standing by to make a rare first-team start against Cluj in the final Europa League Group E encounter in Romania on Thursday.

The 29-year-old striker, who has hit three goals this season, was left out of Neil Lennon’s squad for the weekend Betfred League Cup Final triumph over Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox outfit at Hampden.

Griffiths took his place in the stand and the Hoops boss explained the frontman’s surprise absence from the substitutes’ bench.

Lennon, speaking to the Daily Record, admitted: “Griff probably would’ve been in the squad on Sunday, but our plans altered when Odsonne Edouard called off and said he couldn’t start the game. Otherwise, he would have started and Griff would’ve been on the bench.

“But when Odsonne didn’t feel comfortable started, Leigh missed out, but he and Vakoun Issouf Bayo will be involved in Cluj.”

Griffiths has made 12 appearances – six in the Premiership – this time around after missing most of the previous campaign with personal issues. He netted six goals last term and is waiting to get into double figures which could be achieved against the team’s Champions League conquerors in Romania.

Austrian international right-back Moritz Bauer is poised to return with Jeremie Frimpong unavailable and Israeli Hatem Abd Elhamed still recovering from a groin injury sustained in the historic 2-1 win over Lazio in Rome last month.

Lennon’s men have already won their section and will be seeded in the draw for next year’s knock-out stages of the competition in Nyon on Monday.


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