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Celtic's Griffiths not AWOL but is ill, insists Rodgers

By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers has dismissed social media "tittle tattle" claiming striker Leigh Griffiths has gone AWOL.

Rumours spread online last night that the Scotland forward had not been seen at the Hoops' Lennoxtown training base since Monday.

But Rodgers said: "It's all social media. He hasn't been well. He didn't go away with the international team, then he got injured and then he has been ill for a number of days now.

"I spoke to Leigh when we trained at Murrayfield to check in how he was. He's been ill so he's been kept away from the squad.

"He has been connecting every day with our head physiotherapist Tim (Williamson) and he probably gets about 20 messages a day off him, so there's no chance you're not connecting with Leigh.

"We just want to get him fit and back into the squad again. He's away for some more scans today with Tim.

"So that's just the way it is sometimes with social media. There's always a bit of tittle-tattle which runs and takes its own life (with) these stories. He's very much in contact with the club."

Meanwhile, Kieran Tierney hopes Celtic Park can help turn around the Hoops' Europa League prospects after they were again dented in the 2-0 defeat by RB Leipzig on Thursday night.

Parkhead boss Brendan Rodgers was forced into fielding a makeshift side through injuries and suspension to several of his top stars.

The Scottish champions started the game well and missed a good chance through striker Odsonne Edouard, but two goals in four minutes before the break from Matheus Cunha and fellow attacker Bruma gave the Bundesliga side what ultimately proved to be a comfortable win.

Celtic sit in third place in Group B with three points from nine, six behind leaders Salzburg and three behind RB Leipzig. They play both those sides at home with a game away to bottom team Rosenborg remaining.

Tierney, skipper on the night in the absence of injured Scott Brown, is confident of resuscitating Euro aspirations in Glasgow, with the German outfit next to visit early next month.

The 21-year-old left-back said: "It is going to be hard, they are a good team in a great league and they have spent a lot of money on their team as well.

"But at home with the crowd behind you - we know what European nights are like at Celtic Park.

"It is the same goal as before. Everyone asked what the aim was and it was 10 points so that has not changed.

"Home games are hopefully where you are going to pick up your points."

The Scotland defender admitted Celtic were undone by a slack period just before the interval where RB Leipzig wrestled back the initiative with two goals in quick succession.

"I think the spell in the first-half when we didn't play our way for 15 to 20 minutes killed it," he said.

"It was always going to be hard when you go down 1-0 never mind 2-0 so it was disappointing.

"It is hard at this level, there is going to be errors. Unfortunately for us they took their two chances.

"In the second-half we came out and changed our formation and we coped well and maybe near the end we could have sneaked a goal and then you never know what can happen."

Celtic have to regroup before the Betfred Cup semi-final against Hearts at Tynecastle at Murrayfield tomorrow. Jozo Simunovic and Cristian Gamboa both picked up injuries in Leipzig and could be added to a list of players with ailments which might still include Brown, Leigh Griffiths, Kristoffer Ajer, Youssouf Mulumbu and Tom Rogic while Dedryck Boyata is suspended, although James Forrest comes back from his one-game European ban.

Tierney said: "We have a few injuries but so have Hearts, they have had a couple of injuries as well.

"In football you need to deal with it. We have a big squad, a squad of quality and we have depth in every single position."

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