Daily Record

How Leigh Griffiths can earn Celtic stay as John Kennedy issues 'no room for sentiment' warning

Daily Record logoDaily Record 9/04/2021 07:00:00 Michael Gannon

Leigh Griffiths has spent seven years arriving at the right time in the box for Celtic but the clock is now counting down on his Parkhead career.

Interim boss John Kennedy admitted the striker's contract is due up and the button won't be pressed on a one-year extension to his current deal until there is more certainty around who will be in charge of the club.

Griffiths could be gone in the summer and the likes of Aberdeen and Hibs are already on red alert to hoover up his services if this is the end for the 30-year-old Hoops love affair.

Kennedy insists it's not up to him, but it is up to the frontman who has notched 122 goals for Celts to show in the remaining few weeks he's worthy of being part of the green and white revolution.

The caretaker manager said: "That'll be a discussion between Leigh and the club as time develops until the end of the season.

"That has to remain private as it's a very private matter until a decision is made.

"But certainly with Leigh, he just has to keep working and keep performing and doing the best he can. And then whoever it may be who makes that decision will sit with him and decide.

"Leigh is being calm, he's trained well, and there are no issues there. He is focusing on his football and will deal with the next step when the time is right."

Kennedy is well aware Griffiths hasn't been firing on all cylinders this season. He returned from Lockdown One out of shape and took months to get up to speed.

There have been injury set backs along the way and he's managed just six goals this term, with his last back in January.

But Kennedy reckons the poacher gets a raw deal from punters at times.

He said: "He's someone who has not had a huge amount of game time.

"There are several of our squad who have had difficult seasons in terms of performances. And that comes with the situation we found ourselves in.

"Falling behind in the league brings a lot of pressure and scrutiny and what I've found in my time here is that it's guys who have been around the club a long time tend to be the first targets.

"Because they're more well known, people have seen them for a long period of time, and people look to say they're not good enough. In terms of Leigh and how he's been training and worked this season there have been absolutely no problems.

"Game time has been hard to come by for one reason or another but all he can top is continue to work hard and see what happens in the next six weeks."

Griffiths started in the Scottish Cup win against Falkirk last week but looked rusty and he's been warned there won't be any sentimental selections in the coming weeks.

a group of young men playing a game of football: Celtic wanted a penalty after Griffiths went to ground © SNS GroupCeltic wanted a penalty after Griffiths went to ground

Kennedy said: "It's very short-term for me and that means it's about the next game against Livingston (tomorrow) and I can't be overly sentimental either because I need to make the right decisions for the team.

"If we're going to win at Ibrox (in the Scottish Cup) next week and have a cup run then it's also about the rhythm and consistency of the team so I never make any promises to individual players - not even Scott Brown or Callum McGregor.

"If there's an opportunity for Leigh along the way then perfect. He missed a few against Falkirk but he always gets himself into goalscoring positions, which has been a trait of his.

"He's probably a wee bit rusty because he has been restricted in his game time but his attitude has been great. He's been training regularly, which is good, so we have to keep working with him and see what materialises."

The same goes for the managerial situation. There's been fevered talk about Eddie Howe in recent weeks until his camped cooled the notion a deal was immanent.

Kennedy understands the desperation for a new man but urged patience to make sure the right gaffer gets the gig.

He said: "The club have to make the right decision for the good of the club going forward. Do you name a manager now that's not quite right for the sake of a season book?

"Or do you make sure you make the right decision for the long term. I understand it's difficult without clarity and people will expect to know everything.

"But some things behind the scenes have to be private. Sometimes it can take a little longer than everyone would like we have to be patient.

"There has obviously been a lot of speculation and stories in the media around the next manager and everything else.

"But the club are being calm about it and taking their time to make sure they make the right decision.

"I just have to address each game and prepare the team. And I'll continue to do that until I'm told otherwise.

"There is a lot of speculation but I'm used to that having been at Celtic so long!

"I've heard it so many times when the rumour mill goes into overdrive.

"You just have to stay focused on what you can control, which is on the pitch for us.

"The joy is having experienced players and guys who have been here a long time is that they have that experience and have learned from it."

9. huhtikuuta 2021 10:00:00 Categories: Daily Record

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