Neil Lennon: Leigh Griffiths to play for Celtic against Hibernian

Striker back in contention after exclusion from pre-season trips
Leigh Griffiths: Positive response to Neil Lennon's challenge. Picture: SNS.Leigh Griffiths: Positive response to Neil Lennon's challenge. Picture: SNS.
Leigh Griffiths: Positive response to Neil Lennon's challenge. Picture: SNS.

Leigh Griffiths will return to action for Celtic against Hibs this afternoon after delivering a positive response to manager Neil Lennon’s stern criticism of his post-lockdown conditioning, writes Stephen Halliday.

The 29-year-old striker, pictured, was left out of Celtic’s pre-season preparations in Loughborough and France earlier this month after failing to maintain adequate fitness levels while football was suspended due to the coronavirus 

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Griffiths’ future with the Scottish champions appeared in doubt but Lennon revealed the Scotland international has put himself back in contention for a place in his side ahead of the start of the new Premiership season next weekend.

“He will be involved against Hibs,” said Lennon after his team’s 2-0 win over Ross County at Celtic Park yesterday. “We will get him some minutes on the pitch.

“I was absolutely delighted to see the condition he has got himself in when we came back this week.

“He had a lot of criticism but he deserves praise for the way he has come back. There is a massive difference – huge. It’s all down to him and he has to maintain that now, but it’s been a great response from him.”

Celtic remain in the hunt for another striker with West Ham’s Swiss international Albian Ajeti understood to be top of a list of potential targets which also includes Ivan Toney of Peterborough United and out-of-contract former Scotland front man Steven Fletcher.

“There is a lot of speculation but nothing confirmed as yet,” said Lennon who also hopes to recruit a new goalkeeper this week with a deal for Greek international Vasilis Barkas believed to be close.

“We will probably have more on a few things in the next few days,” added Lennon who was scheduled to have a meeting with Celtic’s recruitment chief Nick Hammond later yesterday.

Celtic goalkeeper Ross Doohan, pictured, played as a trialist for County against his parent club and the 22-year-old is expected to join the Dingwall club on a season-long loan deal this week.

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“We’ve known for a while Celtic were going to let us take Ross for the season but it’s been difficult to get there,” said County manager Stuart Kettlewell.

“Celtic have had issues trying to get another goalkeeper in themselves. Fortunately, we are almost able to do something now and I’m pretty confident that by Tuesday we will be able to make it happen.”

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