LEIGH Griffiths has expressed his disappointment that Celtic will not be facing Rangers in next season’s Scottish Premiership but insists the Ibrox club can have no complaints.
The Hoops’ traditional rivals imploded spectacularly in their top-flight play-off against Motherwell, their 3-0 defeat at Fir Park on Sunday making it a comprehensive and embarrassing 6-1 defeat on aggregate.
It was widely believed that the Govan club would come through the leagues unhindered after they re-emerged in the bottom tier of Scottish football years three years ago following their descent into administration and liquidation.
However, while the Light Blues are consigned to the Scottish Championship for another season at least, Griffiths stressed that the Parkhead side will carry on regardless and look to build on four successive title wins.
Speaking at the Peter Vardy Vauxhall dealership in Edinburgh, where he was publicising Scotland’s Vauxhall International challenge match with Qatar at Easter Road on Friday night, the 24-year-old striker was asked about another season without the challenge of Rangers in the league.
“It is disappointing,” said Griffiths, who is in the Scotland squad for the Qatar match and the crucial 2016 European Championship qualifier against Republic of Ireland in Dublin the following week.
As a Celtic player and a fan you want Old Firm games but over the two legs Motherwell showed why they are still in the Premiership and Rangers aren’tLeigh Griffiths
“As a Celtic player and a fan you want Old Firm games but over the two legs Motherwell showed why they are still in the Premiership and Rangers aren’t.
“We can only beat who is in front of us, whether it was Rangers or Motherwell.
“It is Motherwell, we congratulate them and we will see them next season.
“We have won the league the last four years and we are looking to do the same next year.
“There will be stern tests from Aberdeen, Dundee United and Inverness but it is all about what we do and if we go out and play to our maximum we will win the league.
“Aberdeen gave us a good test this year and it was difficult for us in spells.
“At the start of the season under our new manager (Ronny Deila) things weren’t going our way and Aberdeen were rightly at the top of the league.
“But since the turn of the year we hit a good patch of form and in the end we ran away with the league.”
Griffiths won the last of his four caps in September 2013 against Belgium but a 20-goal season at Celtic has caught the eye of national team boss Gordon Strachan.
There has been some controversy over Scotland’s choice of opponents for Friday, with regards growing concern about human rights issues experienced by migrant workers in Qatar, but the former Wolves player is concentrating only on adding to his cap tally and making a case for inclusion in Dublin.
He said: “Whoever deals with it deals with it but as players we just concentrate on the game.
“We can only play who is in front of us and try to win the game. We will be doing that on Friday night and it will be a good test before we go to Dublin.
“They are an unknown side but they drew 1-1 with Northern Ireland on Sunday so I am sure they will provide a test for us but it is all about what we do in front of our own fans.
“The manager has brought me into the squad for a reason. My form has been good and that is the reason why and if I get the chance I will be hoping to lead the line and score a few goals.”