herald

Monday 16 July 2018

Griffiths will give it Alash'

Tough Euro road ahead for Celtic

European dream: Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths
European dream: Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths

Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths is anticipating a tough opener in their quest for Champions League qualification after being drawn against Alashkert.

Celtic will face the Armenian side in the first round of qualifying on July 10, the first of four potential rounds they must face to seal a place in the group stages of the competition.

They have progressed through qualifying in the last two seasons before being knocked out in the group stages, but enter the draw in the first round this season after a re-jig in the format.

Griffiths, who scored twice in the Champions League last season, expects a tough trip to Armenia, but is confident the players can come through the extra round.

"It's always difficult wherever we go," he said. "The first game is never going to be easy. It's a long flight, with a tough opponent and we don't know much about them.

"It will be hard and then we have a good tie to look forward to if we get through to the next round (against Rosenborg of Norway or Icelandic champions Valur).

"I think we will be well prepared for it and give ourselves lots of recovery time to go over there and get the job done.

He added: "It's hard enough when it is six games, but to make it eight makes it even harder, but the boys are capable of doing it.

"We as players need to take it on the chin and get the job done as quickly as we can.

"It's no easy feat to do, but we have got into the group stages in the last two seasons."

It might not be as easy for Griffiths to star for the Hoops again this season after they announced the permanent signing of Odsonne Edouard from Paris St Germain.

The addition of the powerful striker, who hit 11 goals while on loan last season, means Griffiths will be vying for one spot up front with Edouard and Moussa Dembele, unless the latter moves on from Celtic Park this summer.

Whilst admitting he was happy to see the squad strengthened, the Scotland striker knows he could be in for some frustrating times on the sidelines.

"It can be (frustrating)," he said. "But when you do play you need to take your chance and impress the manager and you will be in the team.

"It is hard enough when it is two (strikers), never mind three, so when a chance comes around you need to take it with both hands."

He added: "You have seen Odsonne's quality last season, and we have signed him on a permanent deal so we have brought quality in.

"It's about one striker for the system that the gaffer usually plays, and you want to be playing but we have three good strikers now that want to be playing in that one place."

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