Griffiths will stay at Celtic, Deila tells Hibs

Leigh Griffiths has had very little playing time under Deila. Picture: Robert Perry
Leigh Griffiths has had very little playing time under Deila. Picture: Robert Perry
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CELTIC manager Ronny Deila has dismissed the prospect of Leigh Griffiths joining Hibs on loan, insisting he wishes to retain the services of the Scotland international striker.

Griffiths has started just three matches for Celtic under Deila this season and has not played at all for the Scottish champions since 31 August, when he came off the bench to score their equaliser in a 1-1 Premiership draw at Dundee.

The 24-year-old was an unused substitute on Wednesday night as Celtic defeated Hearts 3-0 in the third round of the League Cup.

Griffiths, signed by Deila’s predecessor Neil Lennon from Wolves in January, has been persistently linked with another loan move to Hibs, where he spent two prolific seasons from 2011 to 2013.

But although Griffiths has slipped down the pecking order at Celtic behind recent signings John Guidetti and Stefan Scepovic, Deila has again stated he could still figure in his plans for the rest of the campaign.

“Leigh Griffiths is our player, so there is no decision to make,” said Deila. “We talk together almost every day. We have control of the situation and I want to keep him here. In football, you never know. But right now, there is no offer and Leigh has a future with us.

“If, in the short term, they (Hibs) were talking about a loan, as it is now, nothing is going to happen. Then he stays here.”

Alan Stubbs, the Hibs manager, admitted he tried to bring the player back to Easter Road before the transfer window shut but claimed it was now out of his hands.

“I said all along we tried to sign him,” Stubbs said. “We enquired about him before the deadline, I think that’s common knowledge now. Apart from that, there is nothing to report.

“People are talking about it because we asked just before 1 September. Now we are at 25 September. The stories have not come from us, I think it’s people making assumptions because Leigh is not in the team.

“It’s not in my realm to sort. He’s not my player, and it’s not my decision. Ronny Deila is the player’s manager, not me.”

Deila, meanwhile, has confirmed that Charlie Mulgrew will not require surgery on the knee injury he suffered during Scotland’s opening Euro 2016 qualifier in Germany three weeks ago.

The midfielder was facing the prospect of several months on the sidelines had an operation been required but should now be ready to return in around three weeks’ time.

“We’ve been told Charlie doesn’t need surgery,” said Deila. “He will be fit again after the next international break.”

Mulgrew is suspended in any case for Scotland’s next Euro 2016 qualifier against Georgia at Ibrox on 11 October, having been sent off in the closing stages of the 2-1 defeat in Germany.

Celtic’s injury problems are beginning to ease slightly, with defenders Adam Matthews and Mikael Lustig on the way back from calf and groin problems respectively.

“They are both starting to run again at high intensity in training,” added Deila. “So maybe they can play after the break, maybe before. But it takes time to get the sharpness back.

“A name is good, but a name in shape is a good football player. So when you’ve been out a long time, like Matthews, Lustig and also James Forrest, it takes time to get back in shape.”

Deila does expect to have Mubarak Wakaso available for tomorrow’s Premiership fixture against St Mirren in Paisley after the Ghanaian winger missed the last two games with an ankle problem.

Belgian defender Jason Denayer is also expected to be fit this weekend. He was substituted at half-time against Hearts on Wednesday night, but Deila admitted that was as much to do with the third-minute booking he had collected for a foul on Osman Sow as it was because of a slight injury.

“Denayer felt something in his ankle, but he had also been booked early in the game so couldn’t do another tackle or he would have got a red card,” said Deila. “So that was also a reason for taking him off.”