What Steve Clarke said when asked about Celtic star Leigh Griffiths' omission
Steve Clarke today touched on the omission of Celtic star Leigh Griffiths, as he thanked him for his contribution in qualifying for Euro 2020.
Griffiths has failed to bag a place at this summer’s major international competition. This comes after a dismal season at Parkhead in which he only managed to net seven goals in 26 appearances [Transfermarkt].
Clarke has unsurprisingly decided to omit him from the squad, and instead went with the likes of Lyndon Dykes, Che Adams, and Kevin Nisbet. It’s a big call, but one that many could’ve seen coming after previous squad selections.
Indeed, Griffiths’ last camp was in November when he bagged a crucial penalty in the Euro playoff against Serbia. Clarke today acknowledged that impact along with a couple of others who sadly missed out.
Speaking at his press conference screened on Sky Sports News today [Sky Sports News, 19/05, 14:10], Clarke said: “There were a few different phone calls in March but this time there were only really two difficult phone calls. Andy Considine and Liam Palmer, who were both very disappointed, but we can make changes right up until the first game.
“All the boys, Callum Paterson, Lawrence Shankland, Leigh Griffiths, we thank them for their contribution, we don’t forget their contribution. If you go back to the penalties in the Serbia game, Leigh Griffiths scored one, Oli McBurnie scored one and Kenny McLean scored one, those three guys have already made a big contribution to the fact we are already in the tournament.
“I haven’t done an official standby list, I have spoken to a few players – quite a few players – and I am using this is my platform to say to players, there are still matches to be played so keep yourself fit and keep yourself ready.”
Steve Clarke thanks Celtic striker then urges him to keep himself fit
Funnily enough, the road may not be over yet for Griffiths. An injury to Adams, Dykes, or Nisbet and he could very well be back in. However, you have to imagine Dundee United’s Lawrence Shankland could be next in line given the season he’s had too.
Clarke clearly hasn’t made too many decisions on reserves just yet. It’s not something he’ll want to overly think about unless the worst is to happen. But Dykes in particular has had his injury problems this season. If even one the forwards is ruled out for the tournament, you just never know.
But a thank you from Clarke will only act to frustrate Griffiths. A round of applause for his penalty in Serbia won’t satisfy him. This was one of Griff’s final opportunities to reach a major tournament with Scotland. You can understand any upset over the decision.
However, as Celtic fans, we have to acknowledge the decision Clarke needed to make here. Griffiths hadn’t truly earned a spot in the Scotland squad for the summer. Not with the lack of impact he’s made at club level.
The main focus for Leigh now should be trying to prove to the new Celtic manager that he’s cut out to stay here this summer. A return to form next season could get him back amongst the plans once again. Scotland will have their sights set on attempting to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar next year.
If Griff manages to pull himself together and get back playing regular football again, he can get himself back in the Scotland reckoning. The talent is there, it’s now just about his application.