Dundee manager James McPake has opened up on the “soft spot” he has for Leigh Griffiths, and revealed his delight regarding the Celtic man’s form.

McPake and Griffiths played together at both Livingston and Hibernian during their playing days. Together, they managed to reach the Scottish Cup final in 2012 before losing to Hearts.

Since then, injuries have led to McPake retiring from playing and instead going into management. Griffiths, meanwhile, has just come back from his own injury problems and banged in eight goals in 13 appearances since the winter break (Soccerbase).

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McPake knows Griffiths from his Hibs days

McPake knows Griffiths from his Hibs days (Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

The Dundee boss clearly couldn’t be happier about it either. Speaking in the Courier, McPake provided some kind words regarding Celtic’s number nine.

“I am delighted for Leigh and I have spoken to him on and off about how he is. I saw him come through the youth ranks at Livingston and then when he was an even bigger kid at Hibs at times! He is a great boy, down-to-earth and there is a lot behind the scenes that people don’t see because he is a good type.

“I have a soft spot for Leigh and the one thing you know is that if you get him right he will score you goals. We should be right behind him as a nation because he is definitely the best Scottish striker.

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“You saw the two freekicks against England when Gordon Strachan was the manager. He is up there with Odsonne Edouard and Alfredo Morelos. A fully-fit Griffiths will score as many goals as they will. Hopefully, he will be in the Scotland squad and he can transfer his Celtic form onto the international front at a crucial time.”

Griffiths is outscoring most in Scotland

It’s an interesting comparison McPake makes between Griffiths, Odsonne Edouard, and Rangers’ Alfredo Morelos.

During the first half of the season, the latter two were always being compared to each other due to their goal record. That was despite the fact that French Eddy is clearly the better player.

However, Griffiths has actually scored more goals than anyone in the Premiership in 2020. Griffiths has eight goals to Morelos’ one. That’s an incredible stat and shows that, right now, Celtic’s second choice forward is seriously upstaging our rivals’ own number one striker.

Griffiths had a day to remember against St. Mirren

Griffiths had a day to remember against St. Mirren (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

But even Edouard with his 10 goals since the winter break is only two ahead of Griffiths (Transfermarkt). That’s despite the fact Eddy has played more games than the Scotland international. So it shows that Griffiths is right up there with his goal return.

As McPake says, the entire nation should be getting behind him. Granted, we don’t expect Rangers fans to get giddy about the idea of him scoring at Ibrox on Sunday. Generally, however, Griffiths’ return to form at such a key stage in international football is a huge boost for Scotland and the nation’s manager Steve Clarke.

Now all he has to do is put his faith in him. Will he? Surely he can’t avoid making Griff his number one at this rate.

Where does Griffiths rank in terms of the top striker both in Scotland and for the Scotland national team? Does he deserve to go straight into the starting line-up against Israel on March 26th? Let us know your feelings on it in the comments below.

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