Leigh Griffiths Celtic absence explained

By David Walton

August 19, 2021

Ange Postecoglou has moved to explain the decision that had Leigh Griffiths absent from the Celtic squad to face AZ Alkmaar yesterday.

Griffiths managed to make his return to the Celtic bench against Hearts on Sunday. However, fast forward three days and he was once again out of the squad for the European tie. That’s despite being included in the squad submitted to UEFA for the two-legged affair against the Dutch side.

The striker has had his troubles off the field so far this season. And after being handed a new one-year deal beforehand by Postecoglou, Griffiths has still to play a single minute of competitive football under the new boss.

But the boss has stated that there’s “nothing sinister” behind Griffiths missing out yesterday. Instead, when quizzed on it by the BBC, he simply stated that he needed to focus on building up his fitness at Lennoxtown:

“No, we just felt that he needed another training session. He was working hard back at Lennoxtown with a few others today.

“There’s nothing sinister there.”

Celtic 2-0 AZ Alkmaar | LIVE Reaction

Celtic 2-0 AZ Alkmaar | LIVE Reaction

Leigh Griffiths needs big turnaround to carve out long-term Celtic future

We’ll take Ange’s word on this of course. If he says there’s nothing in him being dropped outside of fitness issues then that’s what we have to believe.

However, what can’t be denied is that Griffiths didn’t want to be in this position after signing his new contract. His current deal only goes until the summer of 2022. He’s running out of time to make an impact already.

That may sound naive given how early into the season it is. But Postecoglou is already forming his first-choice starters. The players he can rely on for the campaign. At the moment, Griffiths is behind Kyogo Furuhashi, Odsonne Edouard, and Albian Ajeti. Not to mention Celtic are said to be in the hunt for another striker [Daily Record].

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The only way for Griffiths to earn a new deal is to be a key player for Celtic. To be making an impact on a weekly basis and be at the forefront of fans’ thoughts when it comes to in-form players.

Regardless of the reasoning, Griffiths not being picked for the squad yesterday is a bad sign for him. He would’ve had ambitions of making an impact in the first-team by this stage, not working away at Lennoxtown looking to increase his fitness levels.

The next few weeks are crucial for the Scotland international. If he wants a long-term future at Parkhead, he’ll need to catch the manager’s eye quickly. Speaking honestly, it’s difficult to see that happening.

In other news, The brilliant Ange Postecoglou moment last night that highlights Celtic mentality change