Leigh Griffiths left at home but Celtic won't alter game plan in Copenhagen

Neil Lennon insists the absence of Leigh Griffiths will not force him to alter his game plan for Celtic’s Europa League last 32 first leg assignment against Copenhagen on Thursday night.

Leigh Griffiths trained at Celtic Park on Wednesday but did not travel to Denmark with the rest of the squad. Picture: SNS
Leigh Griffiths trained at Celtic Park on Wednesday but did not travel to Denmark with the rest of the squad. Picture: SNS

Griffiths, who has scored four goals in eight appearances since the winter break, was an unexpected omission from the Celtic squad which arrived in the Danish capital on Wednesday.

The striker suffered a hamstring strain during training at Celtic’s Lennoxtown base earlier in the day to join left-back Greg Taylor, who sustained a similar issue against Aberdeen on Sunday, on the injured list.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

But, while Lennon describes the unavailability of Griffiths, pictured, as a “blow”, he is confident it won’t unduly hamper the Scottish champions as they bid to lay a winning platform in the tie ahead of next week’s second leg at Celtic Park.

Tactical flexibility has been one of Celtic’s biggest strengths since returning to action following their January training camp in Dubai with Griffiths regularly featuring as a twin striker alongside Odsonne Edouard in a 3-5-2 formation.

“Leigh picked up a hamstring twinge so we didn’t take the risk of asking him to travel with us,” said the Celtic manager. “It is a blow with the form he’s been in. But we’re thinking it’s only a couple of days, the same with Greg, so we hope both will be alright for the weekend and our league game at home to Kilmarnock.

“Leigh not being here doesn’t change our plans. Ryan Christie can play up top and Mohamed Elyounoussi, who’s available again, has done it before as well.

“I’ve already got a fair idea what the team’s going to be against Copenhagen, how we’re going to play and how we’re going to start and we’ll see where that takes us.

“We have been very flexible, even ‘in-game’ on Sunday at Pittodrie we were flexible with that as well. We will see how the game’s rolling. It’s not me trying to be smart or clever or do something different, it’s just trying to find a way to win the game.

“When we change formation, it’s not me saying ‘oh, look at me, I can change formation’. We are trying to find the best formation against certain opposition. We have a fair idea of how we are going to start the game and things might change in the course of it if things are not going how we want them to.”