Brendan Rodgers has warned Leigh Griffiths his past achievements for Celtic count for nothing as he tries to reclaim a regular place in the Scottish champions’ starting line-up.
Griffiths, who scored 40 goals for Celtic last season, scored his tenth goal of the current campaign last night as Celtic won 4-1 at Partick Thistle. It was the Scotland international’s first start since 5 November, having been displaced as the club’s first choice striker by Moussa Dembele.
While Rodgers praised Griffiths’ display at Firhill, where he also provided the assists for two goals scored by in-form midfielder Stuart Armstrong, he insists it offers no guarantee of retaining his place in the team for Celtic’s next game at home to Hamilton Accies on Tuesday night.
“I’ve nothing in my contract that says I have to play Leigh Griffiths,” said Rodgers. “I’ve a mind to win the game, whether it’s Leigh or whoever who plays I’m not really worried. I’ll play always the team I think can win the game.
“I respect what Leigh did last season but I wasn’t here last season. This is a new team with a new cycle of work, a different way of working, a different manager and all the players understand that and that’s why they respect the team that plays.
“The confidence is high within the team. They are all respecting we still have a lot of games to play in the league. We still have a lot of ambitions for the rest of the season.
“We understand we need to have intensity and pressure in every game. Leigh came in and had a great assist for the first two goals, then got a great goal himself.”
Celtic, still unbeaten in domestic competition this season, are now 11 points clear at the top of the Premiership table with two games in hand over second-placed Rangers.
“Our intensity for a lot of the game was huge, given that we last played on Tuesday night at Manchester City,” added Rodgers.
“Stuart Armstrong is at a really high level just now. For the first goal, his desire to get in the box - he’ll always have that. If I played him at right-back, he’d have that. He’s got that in-built brain for the goal.
“The second one was a wonderful strike, the power he generated. Their keeper will maybe look at it but he’s finished it really well.
“His pass for the fourth goal was sublime, dead weight for Emilio to set it up for Callum. His all round performance, his pressing of the game – along with Scott and Tom – was of a high level.”