MX23RW : Monday, February 18 06:54:43

Leigh Griffiths not yet ready for Celtic return

Brendan Rodgers is taking the striker’s problem day by day.

Brendan Rodgers offered Scotland boss Alex McLeish no encouragement by confirming Leigh Griffiths remains unavailable for Celtic.

The Hoops striker has not played since the 6-0 win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park earlier in the month and pulled out of the last Scotland squad for fitness reasons, with a calf injury being a recent concern.

Hearts and Scotland were dealt a blow when striker Steven Naismith was ruled out of the Scots’ upcoming Nations League deciders against Albania and Israel after being told he needed knee surgery.

Ahead of the trip to bottom side Dundee in the Ladbrokes Premiership on Wednesday night, Celtic boss Rodgers was asked about the prospects of Griffiths being able to fill that gap when McLeish names his squad early next week.

He said: “I’m not sure at this moment, we just take it day by day.

“It’s a blow, Steven Naismith being out for Scotland and for Hearts but we just need to assess that.

“There is not a lot of time, that’s the only thing I would say. Certainly if was available he would be nowhere near match fit but we will see over the next few weeks where Leigh is at.

“He was here today, he was in the treatment room with the medical team.

“We have 10 injuries so our medical team are working hard with the players to get them back but there is no timeline on it.”

After a faltering start to the season the champions look to be on their way back to their best with 13 goals in their last three domestic games, including the 3-0 Betfred Cup semi-final win over Hearts at BT Murrayfield on Sunday.

Rodgers believes the turnaround is down to retaining belief in the “process.”

The Northern Irishman said: “We have been working very hard on the training field, reassuring the players of their ability to focus and continue believing.

“What is important is that we can have no doubt about how we work and how we play and the players have shown that over the last few years.

“Sometimes you have periods where you don’t take your chances or don’t score and for us at the beginning of the season we weren’t creating as much.

“But we are much more synchronised in our movement now.

“Players are closer together, more compact in attack which allows you to have the ability to combine more and from there look to do what we do which is to break lines in behind teams and we have taken most of our chances.

“I would expect us to get better as the season goes on.”

Dundee are bottom of the table and new boss Jim McIntyre has lost first two matches since taking over from Neil McCann.

However, Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney said: “There is no complacency with us.

“We know it is going to be hard game, whether their run of form is good or bad, we know it is always going to be a tough game.”

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