Hibs’ Pat Fenlon backs Leigh Griffiths despite charges

Leigh Griffiths and Pat Fenlon. Picture: SNS
Leigh Griffiths and Pat Fenlon. Picture: SNS
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HIBERNIAN manager Pat Fenlon insisted yesterday that he had had no qualms about selecting Leigh Griffiths for the match against Aberdeen, despite reports that the striker had been charged with shoplifting in Edinburgh on Saturday.

Griffiths played for the full 90 minutes of the goalless draw at Pittodrie.

“We wanted him to play today and I thought he did okay,” Fenlon said. “He didn’t get a lot of service, to be honest. You always think about decisions. No matter what the situation is, you have to think about decisions and who you’re going to play and what impact it will have. It’s no different with Leigh today.”

Griffiths, who earlier this year apologised for an alleged racist remark on Twitter, is believed to have been detained by security guards at a Tesco in Corstorphine over the weekend. The 22-year-old striker allegedly took four bottles of Lucozade from the superstore.

Hibs goalkeeper Ben Williams, who saved an early penalty from Aberdeen’s Niall McGinn, also offered his backing to Griffiths yesterday. Avoiding mention of Saturday’s alleged incident, Williams suggested that Griffiths can be naive at times, and explained that team-mates do their best to offer him advice.

“In and around the football club, Sparky is fantastic,” he said. “He’s a hard worker, and we don’t have any problems with him at all whether it’s in training or in games. His ability is there for everyone to see.

“I’m sure there are little bits of controversy that follow him, and whatever background there is behind that is between him and whoever it might be. We’re just happy to have him at the club.

“I don’t know much about what’s gone on. I think there are a few times he’s maybe a little bit unfortunate, and sometimes a little bit naive in the situations that he gets himself in. Everyone has spoken to him at length. [Club captain] James McPake speaks to him well and the 
manager speaks to him well.

“He’s not a vindictive or a nasty person. You see him day to day and there’s not a bad bone in his body. So whatever reason gets him in trouble, I’m sure it’s something he can easily address.

“He’s got everything there that you need to be a top, top footballer. He’s shown that. We, as a group, know the talent that he brings, and we welcome him with open arms every day.”