By Alex Stevens
Alan Stubbs believes Leigh Griffiths’ nose has been put out of joint by the impact at Celtic of Moussa Dembele.
The Scotland international has been forced down the pecking order this season after losing his mantle as the club’s undisputed first choice striker.
Griffiths was once again on the substitute’s bench on Sunday for Celtic’s 4-1 Scottish Cup quarter-final triumph over St Mirren at Parkhead.
The forward, 26, came off the bench to put the gloss on Celtic’s win by scoring the last of his side’s goals with a well-taken long range finish.
It was his first goal since Christmas Eve and his first since being given a public rebuke over his professionalism by manager Brendan Rodgers.
“When you’re winning it’s always easier to come out and say, maybe he needs that,” said Stubbs on Sky Sports 5’s live coverage of the match.
“Dembele’s form this season has been outstanding and it has been a bit stop-start for Leigh, who has been injured and out of the team.
“He’s probably been frustrated, as strikers always do. Dembele’s taken a lot of his headlines this season. Leigh being Leigh, he will want to be in the team and will want to start, and it’s probably been a frustrating time for him.
“The only thing he can do is work hard in training and maybe he has dropped off a level and Brendan thought, ‘right, if you want to get back in the team then you need to show me more in training’.”
Griffiths scored a remarkable 40 goals from 51 matches last season as he spearheaded his side’s title triumph.
He still has a fine scoring record this season, with 15 goals from 29 appearances in all competitions, only 16 of which have been starts.
By contrast, Dembele has scored 33 goals in 45 matches in a remarkable debut campaign that has been decorated by sensational displays in Old Firm and Champions League encounters.
In other Celtic news, the club are to secure a bumper agreement within days.