RAGING Neil Lennon has ripped into Leigh Griffiths in a sensational war of words between the former manager and his player.

The 30-year-old striker insisted he was fit enough to play in more games last season as the Hoops’ historic bid for a tenth successive title came off the rails shortly afer the turn of the year.

Griffiths had already been axed from Lennon’s travelling squad for the four-game pre-season build-up in France after returning from lockdown overweight.

The frontman, who scored a miserly seven goals throughout a wretched campaign, claimed he could have made more of a contribution if he had been given more game-time, as CQN reported yesterday.

But a fuming Lennon fired back and told BBC Scotland: “He did let himself down. He was on full pay for the three months lockdown. He comes back totally out of condition and a stone overweight. He couldn’t afford to be because he hadn’t played much football in the previous 18 months to two years.

A BHOY ALONE…Leigh Griffiths sits in the Parkhead stand afer getting the hook in the Scottish Cup-tie against Falkirk in April.

“Before lockdown he was in the team, he was scoring goals and doing absolutely fine and then he comes back completely out of condition. Way, way behind any of the rest of them. For me that was totally unacceptable.

“He’s trying to make out it’s alright, but it’s not. He’s saying he’s proved people wrong, but he hasn’t proved anyone wrong. He’s not at the level of being a Champions League player, he didn’t make the Scotland squad. You have to ask why.”

Lennon also cast doubt if the one-time prolific hitman could come back to previous form.

He added: “To play at the top level, the European level, he’s got a lot to do. A helluva lot to do. Even if he is in decent condition, he hasn’t got the pace anymore. He needs to be slimline, sharp, that’s his game.

“The bottom line is if I had a fit and hungry Leigh Griffiths last season, he’d have played because I signed him. We worked incredibly hard with him and he let me and everyone down.”

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