The Leigh Griffiths conundrum: Do Dundee stick or twist, no Celtic future, goal against Forfar, Sam Cosgrove clue

A week after he returned to training with what are for now his Dundee teammates, and six days before the Dens Park side return to Premiership action, Leigh Griffiths remains in a limbo.
Dundee have been linked with a move for ex-Aberdeen striker Sam Cosgrove.Dundee have been linked with a move for ex-Aberdeen striker Sam Cosgrove.
Dundee have been linked with a move for ex-Aberdeen striker Sam Cosgrove.

The former Scotland striker is to all intents and purposes very much still part of the Dundee squad. He even started a bounce game against Forfar Athletic last night at Station Park.

But it must be upsetting to know that in the background what sounds like the opposite of a tug of war for his services remains ongoing with Celtic, his parent club.

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Dundee want to cut short the loan deal unless the terms of the arrangement can be re-negotiated. The Dens Park club are not terribly keen on keeping him on the current terms when, with only 16 league matches left to play, there’s a risk they might lose him for multiple games.

Leigh Griffiths' future at Dundee is uncertain.Leigh Griffiths' future at Dundee is uncertain.
Leigh Griffiths' future at Dundee is uncertain.

There is still a potential ban lingering over Griffiths following the kicking-a-firework-towards-fans incident against St Johnstone in September.

He has already been charged by Police Scotland and an SFA charge of excessive misconduct will have to wait until the legal procedure has run its course. With a new set of Covid restrictions having been put in place before Christmas, there’s no telling when that might be.

Still, Dundee, with a relegation battle looming, won’t wish to gamble on the current campaign finishing before the SFA are able to impose a suspension on the player.

In the meantime, all Griffiths can do is train – and try to get up to speed. He scored in a bounce game last night against Forfar. The one concern for Dundee fans surviving on what little information there is with regards the player’s future is what effect the winter break being brought forward might have on his fitness levels. His physical condition seemed unsatisfactory enough judging from when Dundee were last in action, on Boxing Day.

Griffiths is behind fellow forward Danny Mullen in the pecking order.Griffiths is behind fellow forward Danny Mullen in the pecking order.
Griffiths is behind fellow forward Danny Mullen in the pecking order.

Griffiths was required, due to circumstances, to play all 90 minutes v Aberdeen, as he was against Hearts the previous weekend. His display at Pittodrie in a game when Dundee were, to be fair to him, on the back foot for much of the afternoon was hardly reminiscent of the bustling Griffiths of old. Although what was reminiscent of the player in his heyday was the 30-yard thunderbolt free-kick he despatched into the top corner to give Dundee the lead.

It’s moments like this, fleeting admittedly, which might help persuade his old Hibs teammate James McPake that he’s worth keeping on – providing Celtic can offer more value in the deal.

Whatever fitness gains were made by Griffiths playing two 90 minutes in quick succession have surely been dissipated by the latest break. The news that Dundee were interested in signing former Aberdeen striker Sam Cosgrove on loan from Birmingham City is a further indication that McPake is not confident going into the second half of the season with Griffiths even continuing as his second-choice striker.

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As it stands, with Jason Cummings on the look-out for a new club, Danny Mullen is the first-choice.

Griffiths will recognise that he’s not done enough to convince the manager otherwise. A return of two goals in 14 appearances is not what was envisaged when Dundee reportedly trumped Hibs in the race for his signature. The club made the timeframe very clear when confirming the deal.

“Dundee Football Club are delighted to announce the signing of Leigh Griffiths on a season-long loan from Celtic,” said the statement.

He had effectively already cleaned out his locker at Celtic Park. There is no way back there. There may yet be a (short-term) future at Dens Park.

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