LEIGH GRIFFITHS failed to play 90 minutes in any game during Celtic’s wretched campaign.
However, the 30-year-old striker, who hopes to sort out his Hoops future “in the next few days”, insisted he WAS FIT throughout the season that collapsed after promising so much in the summer.
Griffiths was axed from the squad that travelled to France for four pre-season games after failing to satisfy Neil Lennon with his fitness levels. It was a false start for the frontman who had hoped to make an impact at club ad country level.
Instead, he scored a meagre total of seven goals and was axed from Steve Clarke’s Scotland squad for the Euros. The country cried out for a natural goalscorer with his Hoops team-mate Callum McGregor claiming the Scots’ solitary strike in the 3-1 loss to Croatia last night after blanks in the 2-0 defeat from Czech Republic and the scoreless stalemate against England at Wembley.
BY THE LEFT…Leigh Griffiths fires in a free-kick in the 1-0 loss against Ross County in Dingwall in February – Neil Lennon’s last game as Celtic manager.
Following Lennon’s February departure, Griffiths admitted he sent his former gaffer a message questioning his decision to drop him.
The attacker had a run of seven games in the starting line-up during December and January and felt he had done enough to keep a place in the team.
But after being hooked at half time during the 2-1 home reverse against St Mirren, he didn’t make another start until the Scottish Cup clash with Falkirk in April where he was hooked on the hour mark.
After that, he was used solely as a substitute for his remaining games.
Griffiths was annoyed by claims he wasn’t up to the rigours of a full game and said defiantly: “I’m fit. I said it towards the end of last season, if you’re fit enough to be on the bench, then you’re fit enough to play games.
HAMPDEN HERO…Leigh Griffiths thumps in Celtic’s third goal in the Scottish Cup Final against Hearts in December.
“At times, Celtic were losing or drawing games and needed a goal and I was the one brought on to make that impact.
“I did it away to Aberdeen and then I was thinking I’ve not had a lot of minutes during the season, so in the games towards the end of the season when the league was finished – for example against St Johnstone at home, we were winning 3-0 at the time and I got 17 minutes.
“That’s what was coming out of the club, but I’m thinking to myself, if you’re not fit then you’re not going to be part of the squad until you are. That’s my take on it. You’d have to ask the coaches at Celtic or Lenny why he didn’t think I was fit.
“Given the run I had after the Scottish Cup Final in December, I played six or seven on the bounce.
“I had a run of games in December/January time and I messaged him after he was let go and said there was one bad 45 minutes against St Mirren when we got beat at home. I had a bad 45 minutes, yeah, but I wasn’t the only one.
“And after that I wasn’t seen again until the Falkirk game nearly two months later. That was the last game I started.”
THE EQUALISER…Leigh Griffiths is about to be congratulated by Karamoko Dembele after his late leveller against Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
Asked if he felt he could have been given more opportunities last season, he told BBC Scotland: “At times, yeah. Like I say, the run I got from the end of December through to January I was fine and starting games and playing well.
“The only game I didn’t play more than 60 minutes was the game at Ibrox. We were playing well and got a man sent off and I was the one that came off.
“But apart from that I scored goals, I assisted goals, I was playing well, but that bad 45 minutes against St Mirren was a turning point.”
Griffiths is out of contract in a week’s time, but has revealed he has held discussions with Ange Postecoglou over a new deal and hopes to get it done soon.
He added: “I’m out of contract at the end of the month, but I spoke to the manager last week and he’s keen to keep me on. We’re looking for a deal that can be done and hopefully it can be done in the next few days.”