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Neil Lennon calls for Leigh Griffiths to be shown more "compassion"

Neil Lennon calls for Leigh Griffiths to be shown more
© Reuters
The striker had come in for criticism recently.

Neil Lennon has urged Leigh Griffiths’ critics to start showing the Celtic striker some compassion.

The Hoops boss confirmed his club have lodged a complaint over comments made by television pundit Kris Boyd following Wednesday’s win at Kilmarnock.

Griffiths hit the net and aimed his celebration at the former Rangers forward, who claimed last month the 29-year-old had just four weeks left to save his Celtic career.

But Boyd went on the attack after the final whistle, claiming Griffiths – who has returned to scoring form with two goals in as many games following a battle with off-field problems – had struggled to meet the professional standards introduced during Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic reign.

That upset the Parkhead hierarchy and now Lennon has had his say.

“I support the club and I think a little more discretion or tact could be used at times,” said the Northern Irishman.

“We want Leigh to flourish now and to be happy. He’s got plenty of mental strength otherwise he wouldn’t have been here at the club for so long.

“I don’t think people these days give (what they are saying) much thought. We live in an age now where there’s no accountability or responsibility at times, whether it’s a mental health issue or another issue.

“It would be nice if they showed him a wee bit more compassion at times. At the end of the day he’s a human being.

“Leigh’s in a good place at the minute, he’s enjoying his football and long may that continue.

“I’ve never been a critic of him. He’s a natural goalscorer and that’s the hardest thing in the game to do.

“If he has his critics – and we all have our critics – then the best thing to do is to go out, play well, score goals. You don’t need to bite back. Just keep it in-house and be proud of yourself.

“I don’t think he’s done anything wrong to warrant controversy at the minute or back-page headlines – other than his goals.

“Yeah he has a bit of fun with his celebrations at times here and there. I’d be the first one to get on top of him if there was an act of ill-discipline or something beyond the pale that was doing damage to the reputation to the club.

“But I don’t see that at the minute and I think it’s unfair.”

Boyd insisted he was commenting on Griffiths’ mental strength rather than his mental health.

Writing in his SunSport column on Friday night, Boyd said: “If anyone genuinely believes I’d have a go at Leigh Griffiths for problems he’s gone through then they are wrong.

“So let’s get one thing straight, just to be perfectly clear. On Sky the other night, I mentioned Leigh’s mental strength in coping with criticism. I wasn’t talking about his mental health.”

Lennon confirmed Jeremie Frimpong will sit out Saturday’s visit of Ross County as he continues to recover from Alan Power’s tackle in midweek.

The Dutch right-back was taken off on a stretcher after being sent flying by Power’s lunge and Lennon insists the Killie midfielder was lucky to escape punishment.

“Jeremie won’t be fit for tomorrow,” he said. “He’s had a scan and we’re just waiting on the results.

“We don’t think it’s as bad as we anticipated. He’s up walking about on it but there’s a bit of soreness. We just don’t know the complete diagnosis yet.

“Jeremie is desperate to get back as quickly as possible. He felt very aggrieved after the game. He’s that type of personality that means we’ll see him sooner rather than later.

“I thought the tackle was overly aggressive and it could easily have been a red card. We’ve seen reds given for that.

“At the time I thought it was a red. Alex Dyer would beg to differ, he thought it was a good challenge and sometimes it’s borderline.”

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