Brendan Rodgers explains Leigh Griffiths criticism

Brendan Rodgers is committed to getting the best out of Leigh Griffiths. Picture: SNS
Brendan Rodgers is committed to getting the best out of Leigh Griffiths. Picture: SNS
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Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers insists Leigh Griffiths has a big future at Celtic as he explained his reasoning for publicly criticising the player for his lack of professionalism away from the football field.

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Some have speculated Griffiths’ time at Celtic Park was coming to an end after Rodgers, earlier this week, challenged the player to work harder in training and look after himself more in terms of nutrition.

Speaking after Celtic’s 5-2 victory over St Johnstone - where Moussa Dembele, the man who succeeded Griffiths as the first-choice striker this season, bagged a hat-trick - Rodgers stressed that he remained committed to developing the player over the coming years.

The Parkhead manager reiterated his opinion that, for Griffiths to become the best player he can be for Celtic in the domestic and European football, he has to develop a “Champions League” mindset and remain fully committed to his profession at all times.

Rodgers told David Tanner of Sky Sports: “He’s very much apart of what we’re hoping to achieve here over the coming years. This was just the point I’ve made to him since I’ve come in.

“I think I find that with a lot of Scottish players, and the fact that you can improve. Just because you’ve been given a talent, if you want to get to the best level you can it’s about more than talent. Self-improvement is what you should be aiming to do.

“Leigh’s a very important part of what I’m looking to do, and will continue to be. He’s a brilliant striker but he has to be fit and available, and to be fit you have to look after every part of your life.

“This is not slight on his enthusiasm. He’s a great boy and we have a great relationship. What I answered, I answered when asked the question of him going forward, and it’s very simple. He needs to develop that mentality. This is his life as a professional player. You can’t just settle for what you’ve got. Be the very best you can be. Nutrition in modern sport is very important.

“He’s clearly a talent. But if we’re going to be a Champions League club consistently then you need a Champions League mindset. Otherwise you’ll be playing somewhere else and that goes for anybody.”