Celtic squad feel 'duty' to Leigh Griffiths as team-mate tips striker for Euros
A concerted effort by the entire Celtic squad to manouvre Leigh Griffiths out of a career cul-de-sac has been revealed by Callum McGregor.
Recent events have suggested the enigmatic striker’s top level days could be numbered. No decision has been taken by the Parkhead club on whether to activate a one-year option built into the four-year deal he signed in September 2018. However, failure to earn a start since January has diminished prospects of remaining at a club he has claimed 123 goals for in six-and-a-bit years.
Griffiths’ demonstrated his God-given gift for goalscoring once again with his last-gasp headed equaliser in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Aberdeen. McGregor believes such talent can not just earn him another year at Celtic but also a place in Scotland’s squad for Euro 2020 - the forward having dropped out of Steve Clarke’s squad for the start of the World Cup qualifying campaign last month.
Griffiths’ infamous return from lockdown overweight, which gave way to injury problems, made his Pittodrie point-earner only his eighth goal this season. McGregor, though, sees in him now the instincts and industry that could allow him to make good on his twin immediate aims.
“He absolutely has the quality, that is without doubt and he is the best finisher I have seen,” said the midfielder. “He gets one chance and it is a goal. For him, it is about keeping working hard, doing the right things everyday and trying to get as much game time as possible. After that, you just never know with someone of his quality. If we can get him in the squad and firing then he would be a huge asset.
“[In him] I see a talented boy and somebody who has had massive success at the club [for all said about him]. You just look back to his 40-goal season [of 2015-16]. It is well-documented his problems and as teammates we try to help him as much as we can. I feel that is our duty to keep him on the right track, training well and looking after himself because we all get the benefit of that and so does he. That’s the type of striker you want around you in a squad when you are going for trophies, with that killer instinct.”
That could be true for Scotland as well as Celtic. The injury likely to rule squad regular Oli McBurnie out of Euros contention offers Griffiths a potential in for one of the striker places - should he be able to produce in the remaining three league games, starting with Rangers at Ibrox a week on Sunday. Meanwhile, the fact the finals will bring a confrontation with England can’t help but stir memories of his remarkable free-kick double in the countries’ last meeting, five years ago.
“The manager will have a lot of things to think about when it comes to what type he takes, and he will cover all bases,” said McGregor. “Big experience in games has to count for something as well. I am not going to sit here and tell him who to pick. It is the manager’s choice, but a fit and firing Leigh is a real asset to the squad. We just need to wait and see what happens.”
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