Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers tells Leigh Griffiths to ‘learn lesson’

Leigh Griffiths has been warned by manager Brendan Rodgers that his place could be under threat
Leigh Griffiths has been warned by manager Brendan Rodgers that his place could be under threat
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Brendan Rodgers hopes Leigh Griffiths has learned his lesson from a potential one-match Uefa ban and warned the striker his place in the Celtic team wil be under threat unless he behaves himself .

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Uefa have charged Griffiths with provoking spectators at the end of last Friday’s Champions League qualifier against Linfield in Belfast when he tied a Celtic scarf to one of the goalposts at Windsor Park.

Celtic’s 2-0 win in the first leg of the second qualifying round tie was marred by incidents of bottles and coins being thrown at Griffiths during the match. The 26-year-old Scotland international was controversially booked by Spanish referee Alejandro Hernandez for time-wasting when he stopped to pick up one of the missiles – a Buckfast bottle –which landed close to him.

Rodgers remains critical of the decision to caution Griffiths, one of five yellow cards received by Celtic in the match which incurs an automatic Uefa charge of improper conduct by the team. Both cases will be heard by Uefa tomorrow, along with two charges against Linfield for the crowd disorder.

Griffiths, who could miss tonight’s second leg against the Northern Irish champions because of a calf injury, is facing the possibility of a one-match suspension which would rule him out of the first leg of Celtic’s projected third qualifying round tie against Rosenborg or Dundalk next week.

“It’s a lesson learned for him,” said Rodgers. “It could mean he misses a Champions League qualification game which is a huge game for the club and a huge game for Leigh, considering he wants to be available all the time. For Uefa have charged Griffiths with provoking spectators at the end of last Friday’s Champions League qualifier against Linfield in Belfast when he tied a Celtic scarf to one of the goalposts at Windsor Park.

Celtic’s 2-0 win in the first leg of the second qualifying round tie was marred by incidents of bottles and coins being thrown at Griffiths during the match. The 26-year-old Scotland international was controversially booked by Spanish referee Alejandro Hernandez for time-wasting when he stopped to pick up one of the missiles – a Buckfast bottle –which landed close to him.

Rodgers remains critical of the decision to caution Griffiths, one of five yellow cards received by Celtic in the match which incurs an automatic Uefa charge of improper conduct by the team. Both cases will be heard by Uefa tomorrow, along with two charges against Linfield for the crowd disorder.

Griffiths, who could miss tonight’s second leg against the Northern Irish champions because of a calf injury, is facing the possibility of a one-match suspension which would rule him out of the first leg of Celtic’s projected third qualifying round tie against Rosenborg or Dundalk next week.

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“It’s a lesson learned for him,” said Rodgers. “It could mean he misses a Champions League qualification game which is a huge game for the club and a huge game for Leigh, considering he wants to be available all the time. For tying a scarf round a post, that’s ultimately what it is. Then, the way players are, they will be knocking on your door wondering why they are not playing. You’re not available and the consequence could be you lose your place in the team and it’s not a team that you want to be out of too often, for any other reason than being injured.

“I don’t think Leigh should have got the yellow card for that incident. What happened after that is you need to use your common sense.

“He’s got that devilment, which is great, which is what you want but it has always got to be controlled. You have to be in control, you have to make yourself available, living your life right and doing all the things it takes to be a top footballer, otherwise you get left behind.”

Griffiths was chastised by Rodgers towards the end of last season when he reacted angrily to being substituted in a match against Partick Thistle, the Celtic manager stating the player had “thought about himself and not the team”. Rodgers remains fully supportive of Griffiths but describes him as one of his “higher maintenance” squad members.

“Some players will come in here in pre-season and you shake their hand, and then you shake their hand again on the way out at the end of the season - they are super low maintenance, there is no drama, there is no problem,” added Rodgers.

“There are other players who are higher maintenance. What I have learned as a manager is that the starting point is different for every player and you have to judge the individual player. What I think of them personally and professionally will be totally different.

“I really like Leigh. There have been so many instances and last season I kept hearing that he was on his way out - Christ, everyone makes mistakes and will have their wee issues. If it gets to the point where it is disruptive to what I am doing and ultimately to what the team’s ambition is, then I would cut straight away, but it is never that. He is a really good boy. He has issues and challenges, professionally and personally, but I have found him a really good man who wants to play football and score goals.

“He is not one that I would ever want to lose here. I cannot see him ever doing anything that would make me push him out. I support him off the field and on the field I help him and coach him along with the staff to make him better.”

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