Celtic Axe Striker From French Pre-Season Trip Over Fitness Concerns: Will He Fit Into Lennon’s Plans?

Celtic Have Axed Leigh Griffiths From French Pre-Season Tour - Griffiths celebrates a goal
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 07: Leigh Griffiths of Celtic celebrates scoring his third goal during the Ladbrokes Premiership match between Celtic and St. Mirren at Celtic Park on March 07, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

According to a recent report by the Scottish Sun, Premiership giants Celtic are said to have axed Scottish striker Leigh Griffiths from their pre-season tour to France after concerns had been raised about his fitness levels on return from the lockdown break.

The report claims that the veteran forward didn’t travel to the team’s training camp in Loughborough and that he was given an earful by Neil Lennon over his overall fitness levels. It has further been clarified that the forward will not be making the trip to France on Monday and that he will be staying back at Lennoxtown to work individually.

While the fact that Celtic have axed Leigh Griffiths from French pre-season tour might not be the most motivating news for Hoops fans, the fact remains that Lennon is only doing what is best for the team. The Scot is set to miss the Celts’ fixtures against the likes of Lyon, Nice and PSG during the trip as well. In this regard, an official statement was released by the Bhoys, which read, “Leigh is undertaking his own fitness programme along with some other players at Lennoxtown. He will team up with the squad when they return from France.”

How Has Leigh Griffiths’ Season At Parkhead Gone?

The Scot came back into the Celtic squad this campaign in great style, as he found the net in both their first two league fixtures last season. Having missed more than half of the campaign due to some personal issues, for which he was granted special leave by the club, the striker only returned to action at the start of the 19/20 season. Despite getting off to a strong start, an unfortunate hamstring injury in the middle of September meant another two months out of action. He returned to fitness around November, but by that point, his place in the team was already gone.

Celtic Have Axed Leigh Griffiths From French Pre-Season Tour - Griffiths celebrates a goal
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – MARCH 07: Leigh Griffiths of Celtic celebrates after scoring his second goal during the Ladbrokes Premiership match between Celtic and St. Mirren at Celtic Park on March 07, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It took another couple of months for the veteran to settle into proceedings again, and by the end of January, he was promoted to being a first-team starter. Neil Lennon’s decision to switch to a back three and play two strikers up-front couldn’t have come at a better time for the forward. After being brought back into the team, the Scot was a sensation in front of goal. Griffiths formed a strong partnership with Odsonne Edouard leading the Celts’ line, and he ended up finishing the campaign with nine goals and four assists to show for his 21 Premiership outings.

Will Griffiths Have A Role To Play Next Season?

The Scot is set to turn 30 next month, but despite his advancing age, it’s safe to say that Griffiths’ exploits could have an important part to play in attack next season. Edouard, Griffiths and Polish striker Patryk Klimala are the Celts’ three main options in attack, and getting rid of even one of them would likely put the attacking depth in a tight spot. Lennon’s willingness to deploy two strikers has been no secret, in which case going into a campaign with just two names to choose from in the role would be the perfect recipe for disaster.

Celtic Have Axed Leigh Griffiths From French Pre-Season Tour: What Role Will He Have Next Season?

The Bhoys are surely going to start the upcoming Premiership campaign with hefty expectations already placed on their heads. The possibility of winning their tenth straight league title has the Parkhead faithful eagerly waiting to see what their team can produce next season. There have already been various question marks surrounding the future of Edouard, and without the Frenchman’s presence up-front, we could witness a very different looking Celtic attack-line. Efforts to keep the youngster at Parkhead are already underway. Still, if a situation arrives where he does choose to depart, Griffiths’ experience and goalscoring know-how will be nothing short of essential to Lennon’s agenda next year.

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