With the Euro 2020 playoffs coming up next month, Leigh Griffiths must surely now be given the chance to prove he can be Scotland’s top man again.
Griffiths’ last international appearance came back in September 2018 against Albania (Transfermarkt). Since then, Scotland have given starts to seven different strikers.
Oli McBurnie, Steven Naismith, Eamonn Brophy, Steven Fletcher, Oliver Burke, Matt Phillips, and Callum Paterson have all been given starts up top. That’s also not including Jonny Russell, who’s seen game-time from the bench too.
Since Griffiths started that game against Albania, Scotland have scored 25 goals. Before anyone gets too excited, 15 of them came against San Marino, Cyprus, and Kazakhstan. Not to mention the other seven against Albania and Israel. We haven’t come close to touching the tougher sides, something Griffiths proved he could do against England back in 2017.
Not one of the strikers listed above has taken the chance to seize that lone-striker spot for themselves. Therefore, not one of them can argue if Griffiths gets ahead of them as things stand.
Griffiths is making the headlines
Griffiths has come back with a bang in 2020. He’s scored four goals since the re-start and has linked up superbly well with Odsonne Edouard. Granted, he hasn’t been leading the line himself, but he’s back amongst the goals, and Scotland can’t turn that kind of trait away.
In the last double-header, Scotland went with Naismith up top against Cyprus and Kazakhstan respectively. On Clarke’s bench he had both Brophy and McBurnie. Brophy has only scored four goals in 12 games since then (Transfermarkt). McBurnie, meanwhile, has netted three in 14 (Transfermarkt).
Naismith surely remains Griffiths’ closest competition. He’s started 2020 fairly well with three goals this year alone, but it’s still one less than Griff.
If it’s a toss-up between Naismith and the Celtic forward, who are you really picking? There’s only one winner, with Griffiths playing in a team fighting for nine titles in-a-row whilst Naismith is fighting for relegation.
It says a lot about all of the strikers mentioned that not one of them has managed to take up the mantle since Griff’s last game. If they haven’t been performing already, what would make Clarke think they’ll suddenly spring into action now?
Griffiths must be the front-runner at the moment. If his form dips then you could question his potential inclusion again. But for now? It has to be a no-brainer for the Scotland manager as he ponders his team for Israel next month.