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Thursday 8 December 2016

Griffiths: I don't like being on Celtic bench

Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths
Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths

As sunday's Betfred Cup semi-final clash with Old Firm rivals Rangers at Hampden Park looms large, Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths is determined to win back his place - for club and country.

While currently out of favour with Scotland boss Gordon Strachan, Griffiths has also lost his Celtic place to Moussa Dembele - but he says that support is all the inspiration he needs.

"The reception I got at Hampden against Lithuania was exceptional," he said. "The hairs on the back of my neck stood up when I came on.

"I don't like being on the bench at Celtic, I don't like being on the bench for Scotland.

"But the only way I can change that is by working hard in training and trying to change my game.

"Hopefully I can change the manager's mind here at Celtic and after that we'll see where we are with Scotland.

"If I can get in the starting XI for Wembley then perfect. If not, I'll sit on the bench and wait my turn."

But Griffiths admits it feels like he is back at square one at Parkhead.

He was forced to prove himself to former boss Ronny Deila before being handed a starting role and reckons he will have to do the same to convince Brendan Rodgers.

"It feels like Ronny Deila is back," smirked Griffiths. "It's like the first season he was here. I'm disappointed. Every player who finds himself on the bench is disappointed. But I've just got to keep working hard and when my chance comes, take it."

Concerns

Meanwhile, Rangers boss Mark Warburton insists he has no security concerns ahead of his side's first visit to Hampden since May's trouble-hit William Hill Scottish Cup final.

Gers will make their return to the national stadium when they take on Celtic in Sunday's semi-final.

Their last Hampden clash ended in chaos when thousands of Hibernian fans flooded on to the pitch to celebrate a dramatic 3-2 victory as they claimed their first Scottish Cup triumph in 114 years. But the Ibrox outfit say a number of their players and officials were targeted with abuse by sections of the celebrating Easter Road faithful.

Clashes also broke out on the playing surface when a number of Rangers fans leapt from the stands to confront a section of the Hibs support who took the pitch invasion as an opportunity to taunt their rivals.

But Warburton, speaking at his pre-match media conference, insists his side are not worried about those ugly scenes being played out again.

"It wouldn't even enter our minds at all," said the Englishman. "People way above our pay grade will deal with that aspect.

"From our point of view, no (it is not a concern). It's a fantastic stadium, it's a great atmosphere, the playing surface I'm sure is in great condition and we're looking forward to it."

Warburton hopes his men can put on a display closer to those than the one they managed last month, when Rodgers' rampant side dished out a merciless 5-1 battering.

"I hope the big, wide pitch suits us," he said. "Offensively there are more spaces to play in but defensively it means there are also more areas to cover.

"But it's a pitch we have performed well on before. We're up against a team on form but we have to keep getting better and better and hope we get the kind of performance we hope gives us the result we're seeking."

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