Lennon says Griffiths and Turnbull "need to be fitter" yet barely plays them

By David Walton

December 7, 2020

Coming out of yesterday’s 1-1 draw against St Johnstone, it’s fair to say that there weren’t many positives going around.

However, for me, I thought the introduction of Leigh Griffiths and David Turnbull managed to, at least, help move things in the right direction. Celtic seemed to have an added layer of urgency about them, and the Hoops simply failed to profit from it.

In fact, one brilliant piece of play from Turnbull in particular opened up the Saints defence when he scooped a ball over for Griffiths. The striker just couldn’t get the shot away though and the chance was gone.

But interestingly, when asked to talk about their performances as a positive, Lennon wasn’t interested in praising either man. Instead, speaking to Celtic TV, the manager bemusingly said the following:

“They need to be fitter and they need to bring that bit of freshness because we’ve got a lot of games.”

Turnbull was fit enough to play every week for Motherwell

You can perhaps see where Neil’s coming from when he discusses Griffiths. The Scotland international hasn’t played a full 90-minute game all season, but until he starts doing so you have to wonder what he has to do to impress the manager.

However, with regards to Turnbull, how on earth does he have to increase his fitness levels? Before he signed for Celtic, the midfielder was playing every game for Motherwell. In fact, in the month of August alone, Turnbull played upwards of 78 minutes in all five games for the Steelmen that month.

He was fit enough back then to impress the Celtic support and indeed the management staff enough to make their move for him. How, then, is he suddenly not fit after moving to Glasgow? Has he forgotten how to do cardio?

Celtic midfielder David Turnbull / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

If Lennon is talking more about match-fitness, then there’s only one way for them to build that up and it’s not by sitting on the bench. We’re talking about players who can inject that bit of freshness that we so desperately need back into the club.

To put it into perspective – Turnbull has played 431 minutes for Motherwell this season. At Celtic? 154 (Transfermarkt). He was at Motherwell for a month this season whilst he’s been here upwards of three. That’s an incredible lack of opportunities when you consider our midfield options have been woefully under-par this season.

It looks as though both he and Griffiths, however, should get comfortable with the bench. This already feels like Lennon trying to find a way not to play them on Thursday night.

In other news, one of Lennon’s previously closest allies has admitted that he hasn’t spoken to him in years