Scott Brown has accused Leigh Griffiths’ critics of having short memories and has backed the striker to return to his optimum form and condition for both Celtic and Scotland.
Doubt has been cast on Griffiths’ international future after he decided to withdraw from the Scotland squad this week and instead focus on improving his fitness with his club.
The 28-year-old, who has only completed a full 90 minutes four times for Celtic so far this season, has since been warned by Scotland manager Alex McLeish there is no guarantee he will be included in future squads.
Celtic captain Brown, who retired from international football earlier this year in a bid to maximise the length of his playing career at the Scottish champions, believes some of the reaction to Griffiths’ self-imposed absence from Scotland’s games against Israel tonight and Portugal on Sunday has been unfair.
Brown believes Griffiths deserves greater understanding of his situation as he looks to recapture the form which saw him score four times in Scotland’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, including the memorable free-kick double against England at Hampden in June 2017.
“As soon as something like this happens, people want to dive in on top of Griff,” said Brown.
“But they forget about what he has done in the past for club and country.
“He has scored some great goals for Scotland, especially against England, and his work rate is always exceptional. But if he feels he is not 100 per cent and wants to work on that, then you have to give the wee man a bit of credit for being honest and actually saying that.
“There aren’t a lot of people who would have done that.
“He wants to get himself fitter and we all want him back, scoring 20 or 30 goals a season for Celtic. He will do that. Once he starts playing and getting confidence and everyone gets off his back, he’ll be a great player for Celtic and Scotland.
“He’s been in here at our training ground this week working hard. He could have joined up with Scotland, not have trained as much and possibly not had much game time. Instead, he has been doing double sessions here which will benefit him.
“He is a great character to have around our dressing room but he is deadly serious about his football.
“He wants to play and score goals, that’s what makes him happy.”
Griffiths, pictured, was unhappy last month when he was replaced by Steven
Naismith at half-time of Scotland’s friendly defeat against Belgium with the Hearts
forward subsequently taking the starting place up front for the 2-0 win over Albania. However, Brown insists there is room for both players in the Scotland set-up.
“Naisy is a great pro, he has been there and done it all,” said Brown.
“He’s been fantastic for Scotland, as has Griff, and maybe a partnership between them could work well.”