Scotland boss Steve Clarke has stated that Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths must be playing regularly before he receives his big international chance.
Clarke has yet to feature Griffiths in any of his matchday squads since becoming Scotland boss back in May 2019. However, this has mostly been down to injury and off-field issues which had put a halt to the striker’s footballing career in spells over the 18 months.
But Griffiths found himself back in the Celtic side and back on the scoresheet in last weekend’s 2-0 win at St Johnstone. His 14-minute cameo against the Saints represented his first appearance of the season – with BBC pundit Michael Stewart claiming Griffiths is Scotland’s best hopes of qualifying for the Euros (Scottish Sun).
Yet it doesn’t appear that Clarke is as keen despite Stewart’s comments.
As quoted by the Scottish Sun, the Scotland boss said: “It’s for all the players who aren’t involved just now. If they want to be involved with Scotland, and the squad selection next month, then they have to be on the pitch. They have to be fit and have to be firing. They have to put themselves right to the front of my thoughts.
“If there are boys outside the squad who have not been selected this time then they might have half an eye on the future.
“But if they want to be involved then they have to play week-in, week-out for their club, and put forward their case. But if they want to be involved then they have to play week-in, week-out for their club, and put forward their case.”
Clarke can’t justify not selecting Griffiths next month
There’s an obvious train of thought that you can’t play for your national team unless you’re producing at the peak of your powers for your club. International football is, after all, supposed to be the holy grail for footballers.
But that just isn’t facing reality anymore. Griffiths showed in 14 minutes last Sunday that he could easily make an impact in this Scotland team if given the role by Clarke. He offers so much more than the likes of Oli McBurnie, Oli Burke, and Lyndon Dykes. Not one of them can touch the quality Griffiths has.
Clarke comes across as though he’s utilising a squad of players that are close to untouchable. Almost as if anyone would do well to join such an elite rank of footballers, and that the only rite of passage into his team is a strong run of form for your club.
That is of course you’re Kenny McLean or McBurnie just to name a couple. Two players who have hardly excelled in recent weeks. Let’s not pretend you need to be any better than above average to get into Clarke’s team.
Should Griffiths manage to get a small run of cameo appearances whilst looking sharp enough, he should be one of the first names in the Scotland squad list next month for their vital Euro 2020 do-or-die clash in Serbia.
The Scotland boss is keeping his cards close to his chest and that’s fair enough. However, the pressure to select Griffiths will be immense if the Celtic man continues to string minutes together.