Leigh Griffiths has declared himself ready to become Scotland’s first-choice front man for the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
The Celtic striker is currently one of the most prolific strikers in Europe with 27 goals so far this season for the Scottish champions. That includes a hot streak of 15 goals in his last 12 appearances as he spearheads Celtic’s bid to secure a fifth successive domestic title.
Griffiths, 25, has so far struggled to convince Scotland manager Gordon Strachan he can replicate that form on the international stage. He made only one brief substitute appearance, in the away defeat against Georgia, during Scotland’s failed attempt to qualify for the Euro 2016 finals.
Strachan will begin preparations for the World Cup qualifiers, which kick off in September this year, with challenge matches away to Czech Republic and at home to Denmark on 24 and 29 March.
Griffiths, who has started in just two of his six appearances for Scotland, is determined to lay down a challenge to Steven Fletcher for the lone striker role in Strachan’s established 4-2-3-1 formation, a system also preferred by Celtic manager Ronny Deila.
“It is up to Gordon Strachan as he knows what he wants,” said Griffiths. “I think he has seen over the last year or so what kind of player I’ve turned into. Nine times out of ten, we play with one up front at Celtic and that’s the same way Scotland play. That’s why I don’t doubt I can do for Scotland what I’m doing for Celtic. But I need to wait on my chance.
“All I can do is keep working hard for Celtic and scoring goals. If the Scotland chance comes, I need to take it with both hands because if I have a bad game I could be out for a while. I have to keep scoring goals for Celtic and when the Scotland games come along, if I’m picked I’ll be delighted.”
Griffiths was a frustrated spectator as Scotland’s Euro 2016 hopes came to an end in October when he was an unused substitute in the 2-2 home draw with Poland. But he has taken encouragement from Scotland coach Stuart McCall who, while sharing pundit duties with him on Sportscene, stated Griffiths would be picked for the national side on current form.
“Stuart also told me it was a toss-up between me and Chris Martin going on as sub against Poland,” added Griffiths. “Chris went on because Poland were sitting deep.”