Neil Lennon: Leigh Griffiths could be back for Scotland qualifiers in June

Leigh Griffiths could be available to whoever takes charge of Scotland for the Euro 2020 qualifiers in June, according to interim Celtic manager Neil Lennon.

Leigh Griffiths celebrates for Scotland after scoring against England. Pic: Michael Gillen
Leigh Griffiths celebrates for Scotland after scoring against England. Pic: Michael Gillen

The striker, who has not played this year after taking time out of the game to deal with personal and mental health issues in January, returned to the club’s Lennoxtown training last month, He is expected to begin full sessions with the Celtic senior squad in the next week and Lennon believes that selection for Scotland’s hosting of Cyprus on June 18 and their encounter in Belgium three days later is not only possible, but desirable for all parties.

The Celtic interim said earlier this week that the Scottish Cup final against Hearts on May 25, when the club are set to seeking to claim an unprecedented treble treble, was realistic. Game time may afforded to the forward before that, with Celtic having the chance to win an eighth straight championship by beating Hibernian today and then winning at home to Kilmarnock.

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Following the sacking of Alex McLeish, any new Scotland coaching team at the helm - with Steve Clarke the favourite, while there have been suggestions that SFA performance director Malky Mackay and under-21 manager Scot Gemmill could be placed in temporary charge - are unlikely to overlook any available frontline personnel. The prospects for Griffiths, who boasts four goals from his past six competitive outings for his country, could be enhanced by the fact that fitness concerns could preclude the inclusion of Steven Naismith or Steven Fletcher for the June fixtures.

“He [Griffiths] is getting there,” said Lennon. “I think he’ll be fit for the qualifiers. It would do him good. It would keep him ticking over. He has a bit of work still to do. It would be nice for Scotland and it would be nice for me to have a quality striker added to the one I’ve got [in Odsonne Edouard]. He won’t be a million miles away, put it that way .

“He is in training twice a day on his own at the minute. He still has to be integrated into the group so he is still a week or two away from that. It is a slow, meticulous routine of conditioning so he doesn’t break down again.”

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