Celtic will be without one of their more regular goalscorers for this evening’s Europa League group stage clash away to Rennes.
Alison Conroy, senior sports reporter for Radio Clyde, tweeted [via @AlisonGConroy] that Leigh Griffiths has not travelled with the squad to France after picking up a thigh strain, as confirmed by Celtic manager Neil Lennon in a press conference prior to the game.
Neil Lennon says Leigh Griffiths hasn’t travelled with Celtic to Rennes after picking up a thigh strain. He should be ok for the weekend. Chris Jullien fit to play. pic.twitter.com/JAb6651Bx9
— Alison Conroy (@AlisonGConroy) September 18, 2019
However, Lennon added that the 29-year-old should be available for Sunday’s Premiership clash against Kilmarnock, while Christopher Jullien is fit for this evening’s match, as per @AlisonGConroy. The defender had a blackout after a clash of heads against Hamilton last weekend, as reported by the Daily Record.
With Lennon usually opting for just one centre-forward in his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation and Odsonne Edouard in fine scoring form (six goals in 12 games), Griffiths has found opportunities limited so far this season.
He has started just four of Celtic’s 14 matches so far in 2019/20 and made a further four substitute appearances, producing three goals, although the last of those appearances came against Hearts nearly a month ago when he was given only 12 minutes. [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]
Although he has been restricted to 312 minutes of game time, the 29-year-old has still managed three goals, one every 104 minutes. Only three Celtic players have scored more than him this season (Ryan Christie eight, James Forrest seven, Edouard six) and they have all had far more action. [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]
Christie’s eight goals came in 1,100 minutes (one goal per 137.5 minutes), Forrest has seven in 1,077 minutes (one goal per 153.86 minutes) and Edouard has scored six in 1,004 minutes (one goal per 167.33 minutes). [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]
Neither of Celtic’s other centre-forwards have a goal to their name yet this season, though. Vakoun Issouf Bayo is still officially waiting to get off the mark after five appearances, with two goals against Hearts given as own goals by the SPFL, while teenage striker Jonathan Afolabi hasn’t even made a first-team appearance.
Griffiths’ absence from the squad is disappointing, especially with his efficient goals-per-minute ratio so far this season, but he would likely have started from the bench anyway given Edouard’s form.
Also, with the Scotland striker unavailable, it could give an opportunity to Bayo or Afolabi to feature from the bench. The former showed against Hearts that he possesses a goal poacher’s instincts, even if the SPFL redistributed his goals, while the latter has been very impressive in training and has been promised first-team minutes, as reported by Football Insider.
Therefore, Griffiths’ absence is not a hugely damaging blow to Lennon’s plans ahead of this evening and it could have the silver lining of giving a chance to other strikers who need it.
Celtic fans, do you think the squad will be badly affected by Griffiths missing out, or does Edouard’s form compensate for it? Have your say by commenting below!
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