The largest impediment to Celtic building up a sustainable run of form is the incessant games players are faced with. They will have competed in 14 European games by mid-December, with only Newco in Scotland doing anything similar. Uniquely here for Celtic players, the demands of international football mean that these breaks are often more onerous, not less – ask Tom Rogic.
Scott Brown has retired from the international game but the rest of the first choice regulars are busy every international break. Of the more fringe players, Jozo Simunovic’s vacillations between Croatia and Bosnia have left him with time to rest those knees, while Scott Sinclair only represented England at youth level.
I’m not sure what work Leigh Griffiths needs to do on his fitness but hard training sessions are not permitted during spells when the team is playing seven or eight games per month. Dropping out of the Scotland setup will allow Leigh a full week of endurance and cardio work, his first since preseason, instead of being untaxed as a squad player for Alex McLeish’s Scotland side.
Leigh has nothing to prove at international level but at 28, he knows the most important thing in his professional life is to continue scoring goals for Celtic. International retirement would be no hardship.