BRENDAN RODGERS has urged Leigh Griffiths, last season’s 40-goal man, to work harder if he is to force his way back into the Celtic first team.

The striker has netted 13 strikes this term, but has started only 10 Premiership games.

Griffiths missed Sunday’s historic 4-0 win over Hearts with a calf injury and Rodgers made it clear the Scotland international frontman must improve his fitness.

The Hoops boss insisted: “What I’ve said to him is about making sure the talent is a working talent because talent’s not good enough on its own.

“You have to work at it – and it’s a cycle. It’s one where, when he’s playing and fit, Leigh’s very good, but can still work harder in training.

“The problem is if you’re not getting the games and then if you’re not quite on it in training then you’re losing fitness.

“But then the moment you’re asked to come in and get up to speed in a real high-tempo, intense game, the moments that are there for you to risk injury are far greater.

“It’s a difficult period for him with that injury, but the only way you can overcome that is by working 24 hours a day for your profession, for your life.

“He’s a good kid, a great boy, but he understands where he’s at. We all know the talent, but it won’t be good enough on its own.

“We speak a lot and it’s not easy because he hasn’t played maybe as much as he did last year. The reasons are simple for that.

“He’s a player I really admire, a player we really want to have here.

“He’s part of the squad, but I want him fit and available. He knows that and it’s something he’s working harder now to try to achieve.”

Rodgers named Dedryck Boyata and Callum McGregor as examples of players who have shown great professionalism to work hard and force their way into his plans.

He added: “You have to work tirelessly every day or, unfortunately, you’ll get left behind.”


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