CELTIC manager Ronny Deila last night shrugged off any injury concerns over Leigh Griffiths and maintained only Charlie Mulgrew is a doubt for Wednesday’s second leg of the club’s Champions League qualifier away to Azerbaijan’s Qarabag.
Griffiths was forced off early on after taking a bang on the ankle in the opening day 2-0 home win over Ross County. However, despite appearing troubled as he limped from the field, the striker, who put Celtic one up in the opening minutes with a penalty he won, should be available for the encounter in Baku, according to his manager. With Nadir Ciftci still to settle, it has been anticipated Celtic will utilise Griffiths’ pace to stretch Qarabag.
“It’s nothing pulled,” Deila said. “It’s just a knock. I didn’t know if he had twisted his ankle or whatever. But it seems it’s just a knock. Hopefully he’ll be ready for Wednesday.”
The 24-year-old has now claimed six goals since the club’s return from the summer break and the contrast with Ciftci, still to net, is strengthening his case for inclusion in the European arena, Deila accepted. “He needs only three or four minutes to score now – and that’s good,” the Celtic manager said. “Leigh does put the pressure on me to pick him, but he will get a lot of playing time. No problem. We need all our players now into the next games.”
The player later took to Twitter to play down concerns about the knock. “Injury isn’t serious and I hope to be fit for selection on Wednesday,” Griffiths tweeted.
Despite reports of an ankle problem for Nir Bitton and Mikael Lustig’s need to manage such an issue with painkillers, Deila said both men will feature against Qarabag after they were left out yesterday.
In Mulgrew’s absence, and a suspension that ruled Emilio Izaguirre out against Ross County, Kieran Tierney was handed a first senior start and the 63-minute run-out for the 18-year-old left his manager “very satisfied”. “He’s a talented player and working hard,” Deila said.
Meanwhile, the manager has denied reports that he has told striker Anthony Stokes that he has no future at the club.
“I have never told Stokesy that, so that’s new for me,” Deila said. “I have answered these questions so many times, he’s a part of this team and he has to work really hard to get into the squad and the team.”