Griffiths eager to build on fine start at Celtic
THE devastating second-half display that allowed Celtic to clinch the title with a 5-1 mauling away to Partick Thistle might not have seemed to see Leigh Griffiths at his most effective. Yet, the awareness and touch with which he laid on two goals emphasised the worth of the 23-year-old who, his manager Neil Lennon maintains, “has made us better” since his £850,000 move from Wolverhampton in January. Certainly, the five-goal striker will have had few better nights than that he enjoyed on Wednesday.
“I have started well, scored a few goals, laid on a few and played particularly well,” said Griffiths. “Celtic fans have taken to that, you saw the reception I got when I came off at Firhill – they were singing my name. I am delighted with that and I hope there’s a lot more to come from me.”
With only eight league appearances, Griffiths has no interest in a rest before the end of the season, viewing the league run-in as further preparation for the games on which he will be judged: Champions League assignments.
“You need to test yourself at the highest level and I hope when the start of July comes I am ready for that and I hope I take it in my stride,” he says. “I think I have still a lot to learn. Sometimes my positioning and my link-up play isn’t as good as it should be. I am working on that every day in training. The manager stressed how important it is, but they brought me here because I am a goalscorer and I have added stuff to the team and I hope in the coming weeks and next season it will be a lot more.”
In the European arena it is doubtful if Lennon will line-up Griffiths alongside Anthony Stokes and Kris Commons in effectively a front three. As a system to ease the Edinburgh-born forward into his new club, though, the formation has been faultless. “It’s going good,” Griffiths says. “We are complementing each other, laying on goals for each other and long may it continue. The league’s done now but the gaffer has set us standards that we want to reach before the end of the season and, hopefully, we can carry that on.”
Griffiths “hasn’t thought” about targeting a 25-goal return from a full season at Celtic, the total he racked up for a toiling Hibernian last season.
And it is only now he will give consideration to ensuring his season brings a two-medal haul, with previous club Wolves homing in on the English League One title. “I don’t know how that works. I will get somebody to find out but I just want to enjoy it with Celtic just now,” Griffiths says. “Wolves are flying just now as well, they had a great result and they are only six or seven games away from winning that league as well.
“It will be a massive incentive for them because it’s a difficult league to get out of. There’s big clubs down there who want to get back in the Championship but never do.
“Hopefully, Wolves can bounce back at [the] first attempt.”