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LENNON IN DRAMATIC GRIFFITHS REVEAL

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NEIL LENNON
has revealed Leigh Griffiths snubbed the opportunity of lockdown training sessions.

The former Celtic boss was raging at the condition of his 30-year-old striker when he insisted he was out of condition when he returned for the pre-season before the club travelled to France for a four-game warm-up for a crucial new season where the historic tenth success title was on the line.

Lennon dumped Griffiths from his squad and left him at home to work on his fitness.

The campaign nosedived for both the boss and the player as the Irishman departed Parkhead in February and the striker scored a paltry seven goals and did not play 90 minutes in any game.

DISMAY…Neil Lennon holds his head in his hands as Celtic slump during a miserable season. 

The club endured their first trophyless season in 11 years and Griffiths’ Hoops career is on a tightrope as he awaits a decision from new gaffer Ange Postecoglou if the 12-month option on his contract will be activated. The terms expire on Wednesday at midnight.

The veteran hitman has claimed he was “at times” given a raw deal by Lennon and then caretaker boss John Kennedy during his 10 games in charge of the team.

But those words triggered a fierce rebuke from Lennon who said: “He let himself down. He’s on full pay for the three months of lockdown and he comes back, totally out of condition and a stone overweight, when he couldn’t afford to be because he hadn’t played much football in the previous 18 months to two years.

“We had worked really hard with him to get him back on track and before lockdown he was in the team and scoring goals and doing absolutely fine.

“Then he comes back completely out of condition, way, way behind any of the rest of them and, for me, that was totally unacceptable.”

HAPPIER TIMES…Leigh Griffiths celebrates a hat-trick in the 5-0 win over St Mirren on March 7 2020 – the last game before lockdown.

Lennon, speaking to BBC Scotland, added: “During the lockdown, the three months off, we opened the training ground. You couldn’t come into the building, but my fitness coach set up fitness training for the players every day.

“So, you would come in, in groups of two and train for an hour a day – fitness work, every day.

“Callum McGregor, Scott Brown, James Forrest, Greg Taylor, Jonny Hayes – all the lads who lived in Scotland came in. Leigh didn’t come in one day, not one day during the lockdown. You can take a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink.

“He’s saying, ‘I’ll prove people wrong’ – he hasn’t proved anybody wrong. He’s not at the level of being a Champions League player, he didn’t get picked for Scotland – you have to ask why.

“He’ll say he didn’t play enough games, towards the end of the season I wasn’t there, John Kennedy obviously felt that he wasn’t in the right frame of mind or condition to play for Celtic, which is a very high standard and I don’t think Leigh got anywhere near those standards over the last year or so.”

 

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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