Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

I just need the opportunity to impress my managers, says Celtic star Leigh Griffiths

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers (left) and Leigh Griffiths (SNS Group)
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers (left) and Leigh Griffiths (SNS Group)

SUPERSTAR footballers aren’t usually renowned for their stoicism.

Leigh Griffiths, though, is currently demonstrating plenty of it.

Scotland’s Player of the Year is getting simultaneously overlooked by both club and country right now.

The striker, scorer of 40 goals for Celtic last season, spent the bulk of Scotland’s humiliating loss to Slovakia in midweek watching on, powerless, from the substitutes’ bench.

It was a familiar experience.

Last Saturday he had done the same at Hampden  as Chris Martin – a man without a goal in 20 club games – had toiled in vain against Lithuania.

Yet when introduced in both matches, Griffiths provided the sort of directness, aggression and intent Scotland had been so patently lacking.

So why wasn’t he playing from the start in the first place?

“That’s not up to me, that is the manager’s decision,” said the 26-year-old, widely acknowledged as the outstanding talent in last season’s Premiership, but now behind Moussa Dembele at Celtic Park.

“I know a lot of people were commenting on my situation on social media, but the manager picks the best eleven he thinks he can to win the game.

“I’ve bided my time, waiting on the touchline.

“And when I’ve come on, I’ve tried to do my best, trying to get shots away myself and trying to create chances for the other boys.

“I was unlucky against Lithuania last Saturday and I was unlucky again last Tuesday night.

“Next up it is England at Wembley, and I think anybody would like a crack at them.

“First and foremost I’ll go back to Celtic, work hard, and hopefully get back in the team.

“Once in, I need to score goals and, through that, get back in the Scotland squad.

“I’ve been fit for a while. I felt sharp when I came off the bench against Kilmarnock and Dundee.

“Likewise when I came off the bench in both Scotland matches.

“So I’m ready to start games. It’s just about getting the opportunity and about trying to impress the manager.”



Scotland's Darren Fletcher (left) with Griffiths (SNS Group)
Scotland’s Darren Fletcher (left) with Griffiths (SNS Group)

Wherein lies the rub.

Because, as the Tartan Army travellers  who were booing in Trnava on Tuesday can testify, national coach Gordon Strachan can be contrary.

In his view, asking why the country’s most-prolific goalscorer can’t make it into the national team demonstrates a lack of understanding of the game.

Managers are allowed, expected even, to occasionally back hunches.

But some of Strachan’s preferences are odd in the extreme, with Scotland’s most-expensive-ever footballer, Ross McCormack, and the prolific Jordan Rhodes passed over.

Griffiths’ situation is all the sharper for being on two fronts.

And while, in contrast to Scotland, there is no quibbling with his Celtic situation as Moussa Dembele has been in sensational form, it is nevertheless a significant test of his character.

“We Scots are a hard bunch to knock down,” he said in a reference to the national team’s problems that also covers the individual challenges he is facing.

“We’re disappointed about the loss to Slovakia, but once the boys are back to full focus for their clubs, we will be fine.

“That’s the bread and butter and, hopefully, by the time England comes around, we’ll be ready.

“From a personal point of view, I think I’ll need to bide my time to get back in the Celtic team.

“Moussa’s on fire and the gaffer doesn’t need to move him because he’s been playing so well.

“But if the gaffer can accommodate both of us at the same time, that’ll be great.

“I know, though, if I was in Moussa’s shoes and I got benched, I’d be disappointed.

“But it’s up to the manager what decision he makes to pick a team to win the game.”

The unfortunate thing for the Celt is that he’s out of favour at a time when the Hoops are involved in the kind of matches players spend a lifetime dreaming about.

Brendan Rodgers’ side tackle Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Champions League on Wednesday, followed by Rangers at Hampden in the second of the Betfred Cup semi-finals a week today.

“We will go into the games full of confidence and see what happens,” said the striker.

“At Parkhead we can beat anybody.

“We showed that the last time against Manchester City, when we were unlucky not to get three points.

“I am sure the atmosphere will be absolutely tremendous once again, and it will be great to be involved in the occasion,  even if I don’t get a start.

“Obviously, though, if I get a chance, I will try to take it.”

It is a positivity which even extends to Scotland’s, now seemingly-doomed, World Cup qualifying campaign.

“Personally, I think there is still a lot left to play for,” he said.

“With England drawing and Lithuania winning while we were in Slovakia, the group’s still wide open with everything to play for.

“In fact, it looks like it might well be one of those groups that stays tight throughout.

“So we’ll go to Wembley, prepare well and, hopefully, put these last two games behind us.

“Everybody’s always up for Wembley.

“There will be a full house, a lot of fans travelling down to England making a lot of noise and it’s up to us to give them a performance to shout about.

“It’s going to be very tight as they have world-class players.

“But we’ll go there and try and get a positive result.”

A nation demands it.


Celtic vow not to rush development of 13-year-old sensation Karamoko Dembele after under-20s debut

Timeline: Gordon Strachan’s highs and lows during his tenure as Scotland boss so far