Celtic supporters have been given a massive boost just hours before they take on Sarajevo in the Europa League playoffs, with Neil Lennon confirming that Leigh Griffiths is fit and available to take part if called upon.
Griffiths hasn’t played a single minute of football this season due to a calf injury. Because of that, the likes of Odsonne Edouard, Albian Ajeti, and Patryk Klimala have been getting the majority of the opportunities this season.
Yet the former Hibernian striker was electric between January and March of 2020, managing to bag 10 direct goal contributions in 10 matches – made up of seven goals and three assists.
And even though it’s clear Lennon would clearly rather avoid having to throw Griffiths in tonight, the option is there if necessary.
As quoted by the Herald, Lennon said: “He’s ready to play a part. He’s really handy to have around so he could get game time if we need him.
“We’ll gauge that as we go along but he’ll definitely be in the squad. He’s doing okay although he’s obviously not played a lot of football, but he’s been training the past few weeks and has looked more up to speed.
“Obviously the cardiovascular and match fitness through not playing games is lacking but it’s good to have him back in the squad and he’s been training well.”
An appearance tonight may only happen if thigns get rough
It’s clear that Lennon doesn’t want to throw him in immediately judging by these comments. Despite the qualities that Griffiths brings to the side, he won’t be in the starting XI – that’s almost certain.
So what scenario would call for Griffiths’ introduction tonight? Well two come to mind.
Should a disaster happen and we find ourselves chasing a goal the longer the second half goes on, we may become a tad desperate. That would certainly require Griffiths to come off the bench to try and add to our options. If Lennon didn’t select him in those circumstances then he would open himself up to needless criticism.
Another is if we’re running away with things in Bosnia-Herzegovina tonight. Should Celtic be three goals up or so, the manager may see that as an opportunity to throw on the Scotland international. However, it’s more likely that he brings on personnel for the defence to midfield to try and solidify what we have.
St Johnstone away on Sunday looks like a more realistic contest for Griffiths to get game-time in. A Europa League playoff against Sarajevo would be a helluva match to jump straight into.
It will also be interesting to see whether Griffiths immediately jumps ahead of Klimala in the pecking order tonight. There’s plenty for the Hoops boss to ponder.