Scotland manager Steve Clarke confirms he wants Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths back

By David Walton

June 2, 2019

Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths has been handed an international boost by Scotland manager Steve Clarke.

The former Kilmarnock boss was made the new Scotland head last month. It came after he achieved third place with Killie and brought European football to Rugby Park for the first time in 18 years.

Meanwhile, Griffiths had been out of football dealing with personal issues. He returned to Lennoxtown back in March to start improving his individual fitness, but didn’t make an appearance before the end of the season.

Leigh Griffiths is ready to return in pre-season (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The Hoops forward confirmed last week that he’ll be back for pre-season (Celtic TV). And, in another boost for the striker, his new international manager also confirmed he wants him back in the Scotland fold. Speaking in the Daily Record, this is what Clarke had to say on Griff:

“I read some quotes from Leigh where he said he’s hoping to be back for pre-season. That was nice to hear because obviously if you can get Leigh Griffiths back, he’s a proven goalscorer at international level.

“It would be good to have somebody of his ability back. We need to let Celtic deal with Leigh’s situation right now. The most important thing for him is that he gets himself fit and well.

“Once he’s healthy then we can start talking about the football side of things. But he has to be healthy first.”

Scotland lacking in quality goalscorers

One glance at the current Scotland squad for the upcoming games tells you all you need to know about the striker situation. Clarke called up Kilmarnock’s Eamonn Brophy for the first time. Despite being a decent enough player, Brophy finished the season with just two goals in 12 games.

Eamonn Brophy has been called up to the Scotland squad with a shortage of striking options available (Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Images)

The likes of Oli McBurnie, Steven Naismith, and Steven Fletcher are all sidelined. But even if they were fit, it’s hardly a high-quality list of alternatives. Indeed, Griffiths is the best of the bunch when fully-fit. It’s good to see that Clarke has big plans for him when he’s ready to return.

Griffiths has notched 104 goals for Celtic since signing for the club back in 2014. His record at Parkhead is phenomenal, and he provides a genuine goalscoring threat that nobody else in our squad can. He’s a totally different kind of striker to Odsonne Edouard, who can be considered a real big-game player.

Leigh Griffiths has proven to be a big-game player for Scotland at international level (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

And Griffiths has proved he can score in big games at international level. Strikes against England and Slovenia in the last qualifying campaign should’ve been enough to see us make the World Cup 2018 playoffs. Instead, we fell at the last hurdle and ended up on the outside looking in once again.

Hopefully, Griff can return next season and put that right. He has what it takes to fire his club to success, that much we know already, but doing it at international level with Scotland must also be on his agenda upon returning.