Belfast Telegraph

We didn't want to rush Griffiths: Clarke

Left out: Leigh Griffiths
Left out: Leigh Griffiths

By Steve Simpson

Scotland manager Steve Clarke decided against asking too much, too soon of Leigh Griffiths.

The Celtic striker had declared himself willing and able to return to the Scotland fold earlier this summer but he failed to make the squad to face Russia and Belgium in European qualifiers next month.

The 29-year-old has netted three goals this season after missing the last six months of the last campaign to deal with mental health issues.

"He was close," Clarke said. "Leigh has got some fantastic attributes. He's come a long way in a short space of time after a very difficult spell in his life.

"I feel we should just give him a little more time to settle into the role again at Celtic and get himself fully fit and firing. A fully fit and firing, sharp Leigh Griffiths will always be good for us.

"But at the moment I just feel it's a little bit too early to push him."

When asked if he had consulted Celtic on the decision, Clarke said: "You speak to people about certain individual players to get a little bit of background but the decision is my decision. That's what I am paid for."

Steven Naismith is in despite missing the last two Hearts games with a hamstring problem, while Oli McBurnie, Johnny Russell and Matt Phillips are other attacking options.

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