'I like him' - Barry Ferguson defends Celtic player who 'only needs one chance', points out potential concern

Barry Ferguson has argued that Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths has what it takes to play as a lone striker for Scotland.

Leigh Griffiths. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Leigh Griffiths. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

The 30-year-old is currently away on international duty with Steve Clarke’s national side, but spent most of last week’s contests against Serbia and Slovakia watching from the bench.

When he was introduced into the action in the latter stages of those matches, he was asked to play in a conventional front two, whereas Lyndon Dykes and Oli McBurnie, Clarke’s preferred starting options in Belgrade and Trnava respectively, acted as more of a focal point to the attack, with Ryan Christie feeding off their hold-up play in a slightly deeper role.

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Ferguson, however, is convinced that Griffiths can provide a similarly physical spearhead if that’s what his manager wants from him, but is still of the opinion that the player’s fitness is a concern.

Speaking on the Go Radio Football Show, the former Rangers midfielder said: “You see when he [Griffiths] came on, he had two chances, two attempts at goal, and he made the goalkeeper work.

"The first one, he never caught right, but that one right at the death, seeing it slowed down on TV, his concentration on the ball, on another day, that goes in the back of the net.

"I like him. I just think that he’s the most natural goalscorer we’ve got available for Scotland.

"It must be the case [that he’s not fully fit], and Neil Lennon’s doing the same [not starting him]. He’s come in for Scotland, I don’t think he was ever going to play last Thursday, I think Clarke was always going to go with Dykes up top.

"I was interested to see if he was going to start against Slovakia – he didn’t. Steve Clarke must have the same opinion as Neil Lennon.

"He’s a goalscorer, he only needs one chance. He’s good in the air, he can handle the ball, he can take a bang. He’s physically strong, so I wouldn’t see it as a problem for Leigh Griffiths playing up there if Lyndon Dykes wasn’t available.”

In direct contrast to Ferguson’s assessment of Griffiths, both Willie Miller and Craig Levein openly questioned the forward’s ability to replicate Dykes’ formidable presence at the point of attack in the aftermath of Sunday’s defeat to Slovakia.