Leigh Griffiths ready to repeat Celtic heroics for Scotland
“Buzzing” Leigh Griffiths is confident he can replicate his club form for Scotland as he aims to kick-start his international career.
The Celtic striker has 35 goals this season but has yet to get off the mark for Scotland in six appearances. But he is set to feature against Denmark at Hampden tomorrow, where he could be up against clubmate Erik Sviatchenko, and he vowed to make up for lost time.
The 25 year-old striker last played for Gordon Strachan as a substitute in the 1-0 defeat to Georgia in September which signalled the beginning of the end of Scotland’s Euro 2016 hopes. But he resolved to play himself back into the national manager’s plans by continuing to score for Celtic and is favourite to be named Premiership player of the season. “If I am picked to start, I’ll be buzzing,” he said. “If not, I’ll be champing at the bit to get on. If I get an opportunity and play well, I can give the manager food for thought. But I still need to continue my club form right up until the World Cup qualifiers.”
Griffiths has no complaints about being overlooked in the past by Strachan, who gave him his first full cap as long ago as June 2013 against Croatia.
“Looking back at my Scotland career, I was probably fortunate to get a first start when I did against Croatia,” said Griffiths. “I thought I did okay, but the past 18 months, I would have liked to have been involved more. But that was partly down to my club form as well. If you are not performing well for your club, you cannot be considered for Scotland. But I have started this season well for Celtic and I want to keep it going. If I do that, I’ll be in with a chance.”
Griffiths doesn’t feel his first cap came too early but does believe he is now better equipped to lead the line for Scotland. He understood the onus was on him to work doubly hard to learn how to play as a lone striker.
“[After Croatia] I made a couple of squads, got on against England at Wembley and started against Belgium at Hampden. Then I didn’t feature much after that, which was poor from my point of view. But I’ve been in the last couple of squads and, hopefully, I can kick on.
“A few strikers pulled out [against Croatia] and I was told the day before I would be starting. The gaffer told me to do what I had been doing for Hibs and I would be fine.
“I got just over an hour in an important victory for us. Since that night, I feel I have made real progress as a player.
“At that time, Hibs were playing two up front and it was difficult to go from two to one.
“Now at Celtic, I’ve been playing that formation and that lone striker role for the past 18 months and I’ve grown into it. It feels weird when the gaffer says there will be two up now! With Scotland it will be one and I hope to get the nod.”