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Griffiths pleasing Lennon despite off-field issues

Leigh Griffiths celebrates putting Celtic in front. Picture: SNS

Leigh Griffiths celebrates putting Celtic in front. Picture: SNS

WHATEVER problems Leigh Griffiths might be bringing to the door of Neil Lennon, the Celtic striker continues to please his boss on the field.

The Northern Irishman was unequivocal on Friday when he said that he expects the 23-year-old forward to be at Parkhead next season, despite him being investigated by his club, the police and the Scottish Football Association for allegedly singing a song described by the football authorities as being of “an offensive, racist and/or discriminatory nature”.

Griffiths, a former Hibernian player, was filmed singing with Hibs fans in a pub ahead of the Edinburgh derby against Hearts last month and is alleged to have joined in a chant describing the Jambos’ former Czech Republic midfielder Rudi Skacel as “a refugee”.

The Scottish FA charges, of bringing the game into disrepute and of not acting in the best interests of the game, were added to an earlier charge of singing about Hearts “going bust” and Griffiths is due to appear at Hampden on Thursday.

However, that was put on the back burner on Saturday when the Scotland striker came off the bench at Motherwell to put Celtic ahead after they had fought back from a two-goal deficit with his sixth goal in 11 appearances for the champions since signing from Wolves in January.

And although John Sutton’s injury-time goal, his second of the game, gave the home side a point, Lennon said: “I am delighted for Leigh. He is here to score goals and he took his goal really well.

“That is the best way to answer back if there is criticisms thrown his way.

“We think he is a good player, we think he has a lot to offer and there is more to come from him.”

In an exciting encounter in the Lanarkshire sunshine, goals from Sutton and Zaine Francis-Angol either side of a Gunnar Nielsen penalty save from Kris Commons, had put the home side two ahead before Anthony Stokes reduced the deficit just before the interval.

Georgios Samaras levelled 10 minutes after the break then Griffiths, on for Beram Kayal, scored in the 84th minute before Sutton grabbed his second from a yard out with seconds remaining.

Stuart McCall’s men moved to within three points of second-place Aberdeen and seven ahead of Dundee United ahead of the game against the William Hill Scottish Cup finalists next week.

Sutton, though tried to put their quest to be ‘best of the rest’ into perspective.

He said: “I think this is the first time that two of the so-called bigger sides have got their act together in terms of Aberdeen and Dundee United.

“From what I have been told our points total and the amount of wins we have got is really high and in any other season we would have been away in second place, so certainly from that point of view, the amount of points we are going to need to finish second is going to be a tougher ask.”

 

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