By Alan Hutton

28th Jul, 2020 | 6:25pm

Exclusive: Pundit raves as Celtic ace barely seen in pre-season blows Lennon away

Alan Hutton believes Leigh Griffiths has worked his socks off over pre-season to blow Neil Lennon away with his fitness at Celtic.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Rangers and Scotland full-back insists the 29-year-old is one of the best centre-forwards in the Premiership and that it would be “daft” to give up on him.

As quoted by the Daily Record after the friendly over Hibernian on Monday, Lennon was left raving over Griffiths’ conditioning improvement but admitted he is still around a week away from being available for selection.

The Scotland international was blasted by the Hoops boss after he returned to pre-season out of shape and was subsequently left off the club’s trip to France.

He returned for his only friendly appearance of the summer with a 30-minute cameo against Hibs.

Hutton admits Griffiths let himself down with his fitness problem but that he has impressed with how he has turned things around at Parkhead over the last couple of weeks.

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“I mean I wanted to stick up for him, it’s been a difficult period and we know he’s been through his own issues over the last year or so,” Hutton told Football Insider.

“Coming back and not looking after himself is a bit unprofessional, yes, but it looks like he’s knuckled back down and he wants to get back in the plans because a fit Leigh Griffiths is one of the best strikers in the league.

“It would be daft to cast him aside, I think, if you can get him back onside and back firing like it looks like they have, it’s great to have for Celtic.”

Lennon told the Daily Record: “Leigh was great. He looks great and it’s the best I’ve seen him in a long time, in terms of how he looks in his conditioning. I am delighted with his response in terms of what we’ve asked of him.

“He just has to maintain it now as he will be a real asset for us – no question. We will see how he is in the next few days and how he is feeling. He thinks he might need a week to 10 days, or something like that. But we will gauge that as we go.”

In other Celtic news, Hutton claims one Hoops star has had an “absolute nightmare” in pre-season.

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