Last season Leigh Griffiths excelled for Celtic. He amassed a grand total of 40 goals in 51 games.
Not only was this a career best. This was against the backdrop of negativity at the club.
Those kind of stats would be the envy of any striker. Due to injuries and the arrival of Moussa Dembele last summer though, it has meant fewer appearances and goals from the Scotland striker this season.
And yet, he still has managed to hit the back of the net 14 times. To his credit, that comes from playing in 31 games of which many were from the bench.
The lone striker policy has been in force at the club for some time. Most of the time it’s a case of “dead mans shoes”.
Under different fortunes, I’m sure many would be accusing mismanagement of the high scoring player from last season. However, Brendan Rodgers has the respect of everyone – player, board member and supporter.
Rodgers outlined that although he respected Leigh’s skills and stats, he still needed more from him. Not that the manager was being greedy, this was merely an acknowledgment that he felt he could do much better.
For Leigh this must have come as bit of surprise. Not only was he the cream of Scottish football, but having responded to his previous manager’s request to improve he could be forgiven for thinking he was being edged out by the new one.
That doesn’t seem to be the case though. Leigh has worked quietly in the background as he did under Ronny Deila until that moment came.
After Sunday’s Scottish Cup Semi-Final win it emerged Moussa Dembele would have the injury he sustained assessed. So far the club have yet to confirm the extent of the injury or for how long the current top scorer will be out of action.
I would have assumed that it would be the rest of the season, but Rodgers didn’t rule out a return. All we have heard in the last 24 hours are media rumours that it will be for the rest of the season.
Regardless, this is now Leigh’s opportunity. He has been very patient and will be champing at the bit to get some more game time ans with that more goals.
I’m confident that given an injury free run he can end the season on at least 20 goals. That wouldn’t be a bad return for someone who has been playing second fiddle to Moussa.
I would be delighted for Leigh. His maturity has been work in progress since he arrived just over four years ago.
On his day I honestly think he is one of the most gifted players at the club. His first touch, his close control, his eye for goal…they are all reminiscent of a former Celtic striker close to all of our hearts.
Can Leigh boss his way back onto the scene? Well we will get to see between now and 27th May.