Griffiths: Celtic experience is paying off

Leigh Griffiths celebrates winning the SPL title with Celtic captain Scott Brown 
PA reporter

LEIGH GRIFFITHS believes he is returning to the Scotland fold a more rounded player and person.

The Celtic striker was rewarded for his impressive recent form with a recall to Gordon Strachan's squad for the friendly against Qatar on June 5 and the European Championship qualifier against the Republic of Ireland eight days later. Griffiths has scored 16 goals in his last 20 matches after convincing a sceptical Ronny Deila that he had the maturity to play in his Celtic system.

The 24-year-old has not played for Scotland since a 2-0 Hampden loss to Belgium in September 2013 and he is confident Strachan will see a different Leigh Griffiths when he joins up with the squad.

"I think a lot of my link-up play has improved," the former Hibernian and Wolves striker said.

"Last year, I was playing up front with Stokesy (Anthony Stokes) with Kris (Commons) just in behind us. Obviously, I was going in behind and Kris and Stokesy like to get the ball to feet.

"This year, with playing one up front, you have got to hold the ball up a lot more and make a lot of unselfish runs. That's the kind of thing you need to do for Scotland as well.

"We played the same formation away to Croatia and I led the line for an hour there, and in a crucial qualifier at home to Belgium. So I think the manager knows I can play that position.

"Maybe I was a little bit inexperienced on the international stage when I did that, but since coming here I have got a lot more experience playing in the Europa League.

"It's kind of the same formation with Scotland as we do here, a 4-2-3-1. I have managed to play that role on a regular basis since the turn of the year, I have done it against Inter Milan. So if the manager is ready to throw me in, I'll be ready."

Griffiths also feels he is a more mature person off the park, having spoken in recent weeks of "cleaning up his act", and he knows that impressing Strachan is vital.

"When he has spoken about me before, I have never been any trouble around training or the squad," said Griffiths, who started in Scotland's 1-0 win in Croatia in June 2013, a result viewed as the turning point in their recent improvement.

"I am always making the boys laugh and training well. I have started two qualifiers before so I am hoping to make it a third."

Griffiths will first get the chance to revel in his recent club success when Celtic are handed the Scottish Premiership trophy following their final match of the season against Inverness on Sunday.

"It will be good to get everyone to Parkhead and show off the trophy," Griffiths said.

"Last year the league was basically won by the time I joined but this year I have had a more important role to play, especially since the turn of the year." 


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