Leigh Griffiths linked with loan return to Hibs

Griffiths could be back for a third spell at Easter Road. Picture: Robert Perry
Griffiths could be back for a third spell at Easter Road. Picture: Robert Perry
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LEIGH Griffiths could be poised for another move to Hibs in an emergency loan deal, it has been reported.

The Scotland striker didn’t even make the Celtic subs’ bench for the 2-1 win over Aberdeen at the weekend.

Easter Road manager Alan Stubbs previously moved for the club’s former frontman just before transfer deadline day.

The move was blocked, though, because the Scottish champions had already agreed temporary moves for Teemu Pukki to Brondby and Amido Balde to Beveren.

Parkhead manager Ronny Deila would have been left short in the striking department, but that has been rectified with the £2.3million purchase of Stefan Scepovic from Sporting Gijon and the loan move for John Guidetti from Manchester City.

Those deals could open the door for Griffiths to return to the Edinburgh club for a third spell on a maximum 93-day deal. The 24-year-old, bought from Wolves by ex-manager Neil Lennon for £1 million in January, was frustrated at being left out of Deila’s squad against the Dons and the lifelong Hibs fan travelled to Easter Road to watch Stubbs’ Championship team beat Cowdenbeath 3-2 on Saturday.

Now, if a deal can be agreed, it looks as though he will be back at the club for at least part of the season. Hibs currently only have one striker – Farid El Alagui – out injured so could hardly claim to be in a dire personnel crisis. However, the “emergency” loan is an increasingly popular method for continuing some kind of transfer activity outwith the designated windows,

Last week Cowdenbeath took 20-year-old Celtic defender Marcus Fraser on a temporary loan and he played against Hibs on Saturday.

Landing Griffiths again would be a massively popular move with the Hibs support although a club spokesman told The Scotsman yesterday: “It’s club policy not to comment on speculation. As soon as there’s any announcement to be made regarding incoming or outgoing players, it will be communicated through the usual channels.”

Meanwhile, Celtic look set to be without the services of James Forrest for at least another month as the injury-plagued winger struggles to overcome his current hamstring problem.

Forrest has started just one match for Celtic this season and has been sidelined since 16 August when he pulled up sharply in the closing moments of the league fixture at home to Dundee United.

Celtic manager Deila has previously expressed concerns over Forrest’s general level of conditioning after the player missed the start of the campaign with a thigh problem. The 23-year-old is now back doing light work but remains some way short of joining the first team squad for full training. It is understood Deila does not anticipate having Forrest available for selection until the middle of October at the earliest, which would also rule the Scotland international out of Gordon Strachan’s plans for the Euro 2016 qualifiers against Georgia and Poland.

Celtic are still waiting to discover whether Charlie Mulgrew will require surgery on the knee injury he sustained during Scotland’s defeat against Germany in Dortmund last week. But he looks certain to miss the opening Europa League group stage fixture against Red Bull Salzburg in Austria on Thursday night.

Irish international defender Darren O’Dea, meanwhile, is unlikely to be making a return to Celtic despite speculation to that effect. The 27-year-old, who made 70 appearances for the club in a four season spell from 2006 to 2010, is currently training with the first team squad at Lennoxtown. O’Dea is a free agent after negotiating his release from Metalurh Donetsk in Ukraine last month and can be signed outwith the transfer window. But he is simply taking advantage of the training facilities at his former club.