Kris Commons: no pressure to repeat goal tally

KRIS Commons will not put himself under pressure to repeat the goalscoring exploits that helped him become PFA Scotland player of the year.

Celtic's Kris Commons during the PFA Scotland Player of the Year photocall at Celtic Park. Picture: SNS

Commons, normally associated with creating goals, has hit the back of the net 28 times this season and has surprised even himself by assuming the mantle of Celtic’s top goalscorer following the departure of the prolific Gary Hooper last summer.

The 30-year-old, who only scored once in the 2011-12 campaign, will try to replicate his efforts next season but he is already playing a more withdrawn role since the January arrival of Leigh Griffiths, who has netted seven goals in 12 games.

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Anthony Stokes has rediscovered his goalscoring touch - a hat-trick in Sunday’s 6-0 Scottish Premiership win over Inverness took him to 19 for the season - and with Neil Lennon set to go looking for another striker following the expected departure of Georgios Samaras, Commons will happily take a back seat when it comes to goalscoring duties if he continues to create them.

Celtic's Kris Commons during the PFA Scotland Player of the Year photocall at Celtic Park. Picture: SNS

Commons said: “If you’re scoring on a regular basis you are always in the limelight. Luckily for me, I have been given the opportunity to play a little more advanced in games and get a lot more goals this season.

“I always feel like I’m going to score in every game, which is weird because I am used to setting up goals, I am used to being the in-between man between the midfielders and the strikers. But this season I go into every game thinking I’m going to get two or three chances. It’s kind of abnormal for me but it’s definitely something I will be looking to replicate next season.

“Until Griff came in we have been playing with one striker so I have been playing a little more advanced. If Stokesy was running the channels, I was the one expected to make the six-yard box and get the tap-ins. I don’t think I have ever scored so many goals within the penalty area. But now Griff has come in, I am starting to go a bit further back and play my natural game.”

The former Derby and Nottingham Forest player added: “Obviously with the goals, expectations do rise, but I don’t put any sort of pressure on myself to score goals. I just go into games thinking I’ll get a couple of chances, but I see myself as the in-between guy to set up out-and-out strikers. It’s just nice that I chip in with goals every now and then.

“I think we signed Leigh to be 25-30 goals a season man. We have been looking to replace Gary Hooper, that’s been well-documented. But I think when you have people like Stokesy, Griff, myself, Jamesy Forrest will come back into that, and no doubt add a couple more to try to get goals, it will probably take a little bit of pressure off myself and hopefully the pressure will be on the strikers who get paid to score goals.”

Commons beat Kilmarnock striker Kris Boyd and Celtic team-mates Fraser Forster and Virgil van Dijk to the award and he admitted he was surprised to hear his name read out at the awards dinner on Sunday night.

“It’s a bit overwhelming really,” he said. “It was just great to be nominated but I really thought it was going to be either Virgil or Fraser. I was truly gobsmacked when I found out I had got the shout.

“It’s been a good season for all three of us so whoever won it would have been a worthy winner.”

Commons believes quitting international football has been integral to his impressive form and he reiterated his stance when asked if he missed being involved in the Scotland set-up.

“International football was an unbelievable experience but it was hard to balance the both,” he said. “When I came back to Celtic I didn’t feel fit and healthy and giving my best form for the club.”