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Thursday 8 December 2016

Danger man Griffiths could be difference

Leigh Griffiths. Photo credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire
Leigh Griffiths. Photo credit: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire

Former Celtic assistant manager Murdo MacLeod believes Leigh Griffiths could be the difference between the teams in Saturday's Old Firm clash - if the striker recovers from injury.

The 26-year-old missed Scotland's 2018 World Cup qualifying win in Malta on Sunday with a hamstring complaint. However, the Parkhead club are confident that Griffiths, along with left-back Kieran Tierney who also withdrew from Gordon Strachan's squad with an ankle injury, will be ready for the first visit of Rangers in four years.

Ex-Celtic and Scotland midfielder MacLeod stressed the importance of Griffiths, who has already scored seven goals this season.

He said: "In any Old Firm game you need people who can score goals and when you have got Griffiths fully fit, that is so important because I think he is the one that will get goals.

"Griffiths is the guy you look at that is going to score, whether from outside the box or inside the box."

MacLeod believes that in bringing in players like former Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool defender Kolo Toure and ex-Manchester City and Aston Villa forward Scott Sinclair, Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers had the better of his Glasgow rivals in the transfer window. However, he believes an Old Firm game is the acid test for debutants in both sides.

He said: "We have looked at the new players arriving at both clubs, good quality players, so hopefully it will be an Old Firm game that we can talk about for what happens on the pitch.

"Celtic have brought in the higher class player, I think.

"When you are bringing players from Liverpool, boys who have played at Man City - it is good quality players they have brought in.

"Celtic fans will be looking at their team and thinking they are a strong side, quicker, better and they can win the match.

"There have been a lot of players and even big name players who have turned up for an Old Firm game and not played well. You have to wait until the game actually happens and then decided how well they have played."

Much of the talk this week has been about the impending battle between Rangers midfielder Joey Barton and Celtic captain Scott Brown. After signing for the Ibrox club in the summer, the 34-year-old Englishman was publicly dismissive of Brown, claiming that he was "nowhere near the level I am as a player".

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