Kennedy comments hint at Celtic start for Leigh Griffiths tomorrow

By Sean Clifford

April 20, 2021

After highlighting his training performances last week, could John Kennedy be set to grant Celtic poacher Leigh Griffiths a start at Pittodrie tomorrow?

After exiting the Scottish Cup on Sunday to Rangers [BBC Sport], the Celts travel to face Aberdeen with no material gain at stake other than three points. With the season effectively over, the interim boss may turn to Griffiths to rectify the profligate nature of his side in recent months.

Griffiths has come under fire in the last year, as fitness issues have seen him fail to complete a full 90 minutes this campaign [Transfermarkt]. Looking off the pace in recently, the Scotland international faces an anxious wait over his future at Celtic amidst interest from Aberdeen and Hibernian [The Scottish Sun].

Currently, the Hoops are evaluating whether or not to activate a one-year contract extension that would tie him up until 2022 [Edinburgh Live].

Despite the uncertainty surrounding his future, his boss Kennedy praised his hard work at Lennoxtown in an interview last Friday. Cited by The Glasgow Times, the 37-year-old said:

“Leigh’s trained, he’s not missed a session in the last period of time, as long as I can remember. He’s trained every day, he’s working hard, game time has been hard to come by. Just down to decisions in games and games. So he just has to keep working and make himself available and we’ll see what develops over the coming weeks. Then Steve (Clarke) will have a decision to make on that.”

Kennedy followed Griffiths comments up with another hint yesterday

These comments were interesting. It was clear that Griffiths had impressed Kennedy, especially considering he was given 20 minutes or so in the Glasgow Derby on Sunday.

However, the interim manager was asked in yesterday’s presser for the Aberdeen game about potential changes. He said the following via Celtic TV:

“It comes down to training. In terms of what we see in training, what we see in games, who’s fighting for the jersey. There are guys there who are approaching going to the Euros and stuff as well. We want to make sure they’re in the best shape possible.”

If it’s to do with what Kennedy is seeing in training, that lines Griffiths up for a spot tomorrow. After all, he was buzzing with what he was producing at Lennoxtown only days ago. Don’t be surprised if he’s thrown in against Stephen Glass’ outfit.

Fundamentally, Griffiths may have to make an impact in these last few games to save his Hoops career. Despite notching 122 goals in 259 appearances for the Hoops overall [Transfermarkt], he has only scored 24 of them in the last three seasons [Transfermarkt].

Leigh Griffiths (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Statistically, these figures represent a forward who is returns are diminishing by the week. As a Celtic striker, reaching 20 goals in one campaign never mind three should be a minimum requirement.

At 30-years-of-age, the Scot should be firmly in the prime of his career. Despite this, his tally of 6 efforts in 23 outings has left a lot to be desired [Transfermarkt].

Positive comments about his fitness condition from Kennedy are an encouraging sign. However, substantiation must accompany these claims as the Celts look to finish 2020/21 strongly.

The Bhoys have essentially nothing to play for going into the clash. Consequentially, they could see it as an ideal opening to reignite Griffiths’ goal-scoring exploits in a Celtic jersey.

In other news, Celtic apparently hold the key to the recent Atlantic League proposals.