Pundit Exclusive: Barely-seen Celtic player will have leapfrogged big name after twist
Alan Hutton has suggested Leigh Griffiths’ fitness problems mean he has been leapfrogged by Patryk Klimala in the Celtic striker pecking order.
The former Rangers and Scotland defender, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, believes the 21-year-old has got a golden opportunity to stake his claim in his senior teammate’s absence.
In a statement relayed by the BBC, Celtic confirmed that Griffiths will not travel to France for the Hoops’ pre-season matches against OGC Nice, Olympique Lyonnais or Paris-Saint Germain as a result of fitness issues.
The Daily Record claim the Scotland star returned to training overweight and has been told to work on his conditioning.
With the Scotland international set to be absent in France, Hutton believes that Klimala, who has just four first-team appearances under his belt, is now ahead in the Parkhead pecking order.
“Griffiths has started the season with a black mark against his name so he’s really going to have to work hard,” Hutton told Football Insider.
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“There’s nothing worse going into pre-season either injured or you miss the start because you’re always trailing behind, it’s never good to be in that situation. He’s going to be a couple of games behind the rest of the players.
“There’s a chance for others, the likes of Klimala, guys that we’ve not really heard much of, to come and say: ‘Right, this is my turn then, if he’s not taking it serious, I will and I’ll prove myself in these upcoming games.’
“He’s probably found himself slipped down the pecking order so it’s going to be a difficult job to get his place back now.”
Klimala, who joined Celtic from Polish outfit Jagiellonia in January, has made just one start for the Bhoys to date.
His two league appearances came as a substitute against St Johnstone and Motherwell, while he was left completely out of four of the last five Premiership matchday squads by Neil Lennon.
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