Celtic interim manager Neil Lennon has opened the door for a Leigh Griffiths return.

Griffiths was out for several months battling personal issues. But, last month, the striker was announced by the club as having returned to Lennoxtown in a bid to get his fitness up.

It seems natural that Griffiths would look to return next season. With the Hoops stars currently in the midst of big games on a weekly-basis, Scotland international Griffiths could struggle to get back in.

But Lennon is in no mood to rule him out for a return date of the Scottish Cup final. Speaking in the Record, Lennon even stated that the forward could return before then.

Could we see Leigh Griffiths on May 25th? (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

“What have we got, six weeks? Yeah, it’s realistic for him. But he’ll have to play and train at least two weeks going into that, so he then has a target of four weeks.

“He’s had targets. He’s working away in the background and doing his double sessions – he’s getting there. It’s a slow burner, but we understand that as he’s been out for such a long period of time.

“It’s going to be difficult for him to get into the squad with the way the boys are playing. There are a lot ahead of him and have earned the right to play in a cup final.”

 

Lennon clearly not opening up to sentimentality

It’s great to see the carrot of the Scottish Cup final being dangled in front of Griffiths. It would be an emotional moment for everyone if he was able to make an appearance against Hearts on May 25th.

But Lennon clearly isn’t interested in just playing him if he’s available. Griffiths seems to be getting informed here that he’ll need to work his way into the team. That’s the right way to go about things, and it gets Grif into the right frame of mind too.

Neil Lennon wants Griffiths to have earned his return (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

But there’s no denying that seeing him back would be a boost before next season. Come the end of the campaign, both Timothy Weah and Oliver Burke are scheduled to head back to their parent clubs. That leaves Celtic with only Odsonne Edouard up top. Griffiths’ successful return, therefore, is essential.

If we are going to see him, it’s clear his return won’t be in the Scottish Cup final either. Lennon appears to hint that Griffiths must be playing in the run-up to the game if he’s to have a chance of a cup final appearance.

Celtic travel to Ibrox before hosting Hearts at the end of the season. Those are big games themselves, and therefore Griffiths will have to be up to speed before getting his chance.

But in the short-term, it’s just great to see him back in amongst the conversation again.