Scotland legend Craig Brown believes that the nation is currently missing a fit-and-firing Leigh Griffiths.
Steve Clarke and Alex McLeish before him have struggled to replace the Hoops forward since he took a sabbatical from football last season. The likes of Steven Fletcher, Steven Naismith, Oli McBurnie, Oli Burke, and Lawrence Shankland have all been given game-time for the country in recent campaigns.
Yet, despite that, Scotland have still to find an out-and-out goalscorer. In their current Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, Scotland have scored just five goals outside of games against San Marino. Four of them also came against Cyprus. Only one of the goals have come from the players listed above too, with Burke netting against the Cypriots.
Goals have been a real problem for the Scots. And Brown, who led Scotland to two major tournaments in the 90s, told the BBC that Griffiths could’ve been the man to make that impact.
“We’re getting goals from midfield. John McGinn has five goals in five games.
“Maybe if Leigh Griffiths was fit and playing like he did against England a few years ago, we would have that striker. If we had that striker, I think we would have a major threat because we’re getting goals from midfield and that’s a good sign.”
Griffiths return could make Scotland dangerous again
Brown is spot on in what he’s saying here. Griffiths has netted at international level against the likes of England and Slovenia. He was finding his feet with his country before Gordon Strachan left and McLeish came in.
The sad truth, however, is that Griffiths won’t be back until he’s won his place in the Celtic team again. Steve Clarke stated back in September that it was “too early” to call him back into the squad (BBC). Clarke was referring to Griffiths’ sabbatical from last season.
Yet Scotland have clearly struggled without the talismanic Celtic man. A failure to replace him has been Clarke’s main problem, and he must be desperate for Griff to be back fit again before the Nations League playoffs.
The chances of that are surely positive. Griffiths hopefully won’t be too far from a return. Lennon even believed that he had a chance of making our last match against Motherwell (BBC), but he unfortunately didn’t manage it.
As soon as he’s back scoring goals for Celtic again, Clarke has to get him in his Scotland team. It’s clear they need him back as soon as is possibly viable.
Until then, Scotland and Celtic will just have to play the waiting game. But as we get into the festive season, hopefully we’re not waiting much longer.