Deila wants Leigh Griffiths to improve fitness

Leigh Griffiths: Lacking fitness. Picture: Robert Perry

Leigh Griffiths: Lacking fitness. Picture: Robert Perry

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and what the situation is,” said Deila. “We have a very good and big squad and we need competition. I’ve always said people have to improve all the time to get the chances and that’s the same for Leigh as the others. We talk all of the time. He’s a nice boy and we have good communication.

The Scotland international striker has dropped down the pecking order at Celtic where he is now fourth choice behind Stefan Scepovic, John Guidetti and Anthony Stokes.

Griffiths has not started a match for Deila’s side since August and on Thursday night was left in the stand when not even named as a substitute for the Europa League match against Red Bull Salzburg.

The 24-year-old, who joined Celtic in January, has been persistently linked with another loan move to Hibernian where he spent two successful seasons while employed by Wolves.

Deila insists he has a good relationship with Griffiths but has urged him to improve his fitness levels in order to secure more game time at Celtic.

“Leigh knows where he stands and what the situation is,” said Deila. “We have a very good and big squad and we need competition. I’ve always said people have to improve all the time to get the chances and that’s the same for Leigh as the others. We talk all of the time. He’s a nice boy and we have good communication.

“I know it is a possibility to loan players into the Championship. But he is here and I want him to get his fitness up more. We know what’s in him, so we’ll see what happens.

“He really wants to succeed at Celtic. He’s at a very big club and knows this is his chance. But wanting it is one thing, knowledge is another. You have to see all the time if you have the attitude or the knowledge.

“Playing matches is important, but being a 24-hour athlete is important as well. That is for everyone. What you do in matches is important, but also to be very aware of what you do every day in training and outside of the pitch. We have a big focus on that.

“There has been no problems with Leigh off the pitch, that’s not why I say this. It’s for everyone. But fitness-wise, he needs to get fitter. Of course, that is about playing, but it also comes from hard work in the gym and also off the pitch.

“It’s a culture I want at the club and it takes time to change culture, but we have to work every day to get the knowledge into the players.

“When you are playing at this level with the results pressure at this club, it is very easy to just be into whether you are playing or not, or whether you are winning or not. If you are doing that and not playing, you get a big problem when you are not playing.

“If you’re not playing you have to think, ‘Why am I not playing?’ If the team loses or draws a game, I have to think ‘Why are we not winning?’ I have to find reasons and work with things. It’s the same for players.

“I make mistakes, but you have to do something with the things you can. I can make excuses if I lose. I can say we don’t have good players, or not the right players available. But the players who reach the highest levels look into themselves and think, ‘How can I do better?’ It’s the same with the best coaches. They try to learn from the situations they are in.”

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