Leigh Griffiths plays down talk of feud with Gordon Strachan

Leigh Griffiths insists grabbing a slot in Gordon Strachan's Scotland line-up remains the height of his ambitions.

Leigh Griffiths is focused on getting back into the Celtic and Scotland starting XIs. Picture: Carrick Gazette
Leigh Griffiths is focused on getting back into the Celtic and Scotland starting XIs. Picture: Carrick Gazette

The national team boss raised eyebrows this week when he admitted his need to balance out physicality with skill on the international stage made it difficult for the 5ft 8ins Celtic striker to break into his starting XI.

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Griffiths - who blasted 40 goals for the Hoops last term - responded by cheekily changing his Twitter name to #Shorty.

But the 26-year-old insists there is no fall-out with Strachan and hopes to convince the Scotland manager he is worth a place in the side to face England in next month’s World Cup qualifier.

He said: “The Twitter thing was just a bit of banter. I’m always delighted with a Scotland call-up, regardless if I play or not.

“It’s an unbelievable honour pulling on that Scotland jersey. Whether the gaffer sees me as a substitute or a starter, I’m always happy to be called up.

“I’ve got no qualms about the manager’s starting XI. Everyone is making a big song and dance about it. But he has a difficult choice to make.

“I think (Strachan’s comments) have maybe been taken in a different context. Hopefully if I get called up for the England game and if he wants to have a word with me, fair enough.

“Who can complain about the manager’s decision? He calls the shots at the end of the day. He doesn’t need to explain to me his decision.”

Strachan has selected Chris Martin and Steven Fletcher to lead his attack during Scotland’s three World Cup qualifiers to date.

However, the Tartan Army’s clamour to see Griffiths promoted reached deafening levels in the wake of last week’s disappointments against Lithuania and Slovakia which leaves hopes of ending an 18-year wait to appear at a major finals hanging by a thread.

But Griffiths - who has also lost his Celtic place to Moussa Dembele - says that support is all the inspiration he needs.

“The reception I got at Hampden against Lithuania was exceptional,” he said. “The hairs on the back of my neck stood up when I came on.

“I don’t like being on the bench at Celtic, I don’t like being on the bench for Scotland.

“But the only way I can change that is by working hard in training and trying to change my game. Hopefully I can change the manager’s mind here at Celtic and after that we’ll see where we are with Scotland.

“If I can get in the starting XI for Wembley then perfect. If not, I’ll sit on the bench and wait my turn.”

But Griffiths admits it feels like he is back at square one at Parkhead.

He was forced to prove himself to former boss Ronny Deila before being handed a starting role and reckons he will have to do the same to convince Brendan Rodgers.

“It feels like Ronny Deila is back,” smirked Griffiths. “It’s like the first season he was here.

“I’m disappointed. Every player who finds himself on the bench is disappointed. But I’ve just got to keep working hard and when my chance comes, take it.”

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