Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths returns from injury but may have to bide his time

Celtic's Leigh Griffiths (SNS Group / Craig Foy)
Celtic's Leigh Griffiths (SNS Group / Craig Foy)

CELTIC boss Brendan Rodgers will put himself under no pressure to reinstate Leigh Griffiths following the striker’s return from injury.

The Scotland international hit 40 goals last season and had notched seven before he picked up a hamstring problem then a calf complaint which have kept him out for the last four games.

French striker Moussa Dembele took over the lone striker’s role and scored a hat-trick in the 5-1 home win over Rangers with his clinching goal in the 2-0 Betfred quarter-final win over Alloa on Wednesday night taking him on to eight for the season.

Griffiths is set to return to the squad for the visit of Kilmarnock in the Ladbrokes Premiership on Saturday.

Asked if he could find a way to get both players into the team, Rodgers said: “It is not a big worry for me.

“You have to pick a team that works, it’s not about finding the room for names in the team.

“I have great defenders that might not play, I can’t get all of them in.

“So a team always has to have offensive and defensive balance and if that means some players have to miss out, they miss out.

“But the spirit in the team, everyone respects that we are picking a team to win the games and thus far the mentality has been superb and we hope to continue that at the weekend.”

Celtic have created dozens of chances in their last two games but were held to a 2-2 draw by Inverness and then took 83 minutes to find the net against Ladbrokes League One leaders Alloa.

“I am nearly sure that if Leigh had been involved in the last couple of games he would have helped himself to some goals,” Rodgers said.

“However, the most important thing is that we are creating chances and the regularity with which we are getting into the final third.

“We needed a bit more quality in our final ball last night and that might have made the chances easier.

“We just need to show that bit more composure.”

The former Liverpool and Swansea boss is reluctant to talk about players being number one choice in any position, whether it is goalkeeper or striker, preferring to focus on the collective.

He said: “The idea is to build a squad that pushes each other on. You are always better if you have someone that is challenging you for your position, that keeps you on your toes.

“You can’t have a lazy day in training and you always have to be ready to be at your best. That is the beauty of it.

“If it is not happening in games I can always make changes very quickly because the quality we have on the sidelines so that will always be the case in every position in the team.”

Meanwhile, Celtic’s latest UEFA hearing has been put back to September 28, thesame day as their home Champions League match against Manchester City.

The governing body’s disciplinary panel will hear the Glasgow club’s case over the displaying of dozens of Palestinian flags during their Champions League qualifying win over Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva. UEFA opened proceedings over “illicit banner” charges following last month’s game at Parkhead.


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