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Leigh Griffiths will learn from foolish act at Windsor Park, says Celtic boss

 

By Steven Beacom

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers believes Leigh Griffiths will have learnt a lesson from his Windsor Park experience which ended with the striker charged by UEFA for 'provoking spectators'.

Griffiths is facing a ban for tying a Hoops scarf to the Kop end goalpost at Windsor following his side's 2-0 victory over Linfield in the first leg, second round Champions League qualifier on Friday night.

During the match, as he attempted to take corners, Griffiths was pelted with bottles, coins and other objects by a small section of Linfield supporters and adding insult to near injury, referee Alejandro Hernandez booked him for time wasting!

Griffiths could miss out on tonight's return leg against Linfield at Parkhead due to a calf injury, but Rodgers insists the Scotland forward still has plenty to give in a Celtic shirt in the years ahead.

Quizzed on the UEFA charge, Ulsterman Rodgers, who felt the yellow card for Griffiths was harsh, said: "I think how the game ended, on the pitch afterwards, probably played a part in that. It's a lesson learned for him, it could mean that he misses a Champions League qualification game, which is a huge game for the club and it's a huge game for him considering he wants to be available and play all the time."

UEFA will deal with the case tomorrow. Celtic will write to European football's governing body to give their side of the story.

The outcome is open to debate. What is certain is that Rodgers wants Griffiths, who has courted controversy on and off the pitch previously, to show common sense going forward.

"Of course Leigh wants to play so you have to be available and availability comes from looking after yourself," added the Celtic boss.

"Like other strikers he has that devilment which is great but it has to be controlled.

"You have to be in control, you have to make yourself available, living your life right and doing all the things it takes to be a top footballer otherwise you get left behind."

Asked if Griffiths tests his patience, Rodgers said: "I really like him. There have been instances and last season I kept hearing he was on his way. Everyone makes mistakes and will have their wee issues.

"If it gets to the point where it is disruptive to what I'm doing and ultimately the team's ambition then I would cut straight away but it's never that.

"He has issues and challenges, professionally and personally, but I have found him a really good man who wants to play football and score goals."

Ex-Hibs ace Griffiths is closing in on 200 career goals and 100 Celtic goals.

On his ability, Rodgers added: "He is a remarkable talent. He is as good a finisher as you'll see.

"Someone who scores 40 goals in one season is a talent, there is no question about that. For me last year he became a better player.

"He is working at his talent and he is learning that it is not just about the talent. He is not one that I would ever want to lose here.

"I cannot see him ever doing anything that would make me push him out.

"I support him off the field and on the field I help him and coach him along with the staff to make him better."

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