By Danny Wright

Scotland assistant manager Mark McGhee has claimed that Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths would walk straight into the Newcastle United first-team squad after improving his game in the past 18 months.

Griffiths, 27, has been on fire for Celtic this season, scoring seven goals in 15 appearances across all competitions and he is now ready to help Scotland keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in the coming days.

The Tartan Army need a near-miracle to at least get a play-off spot in their group and have testing clashes with Slovenia and Slovakia to contend with.

However McGhee fancies his side’s chances with a player like Griffiths in the Scotland squad, who he thinks is more than capable of getting into a couple of Premier League sides.

“A year to 18 months ago if someone down the road had said to me ‘could Leigh Griffiths do well in the Championship?’ I’d have said ‘He is a finisher. In the right team then probably.’” said McGhee, as quoted by the Glasgow Evening Times. “Now if someone asked if he could do well in the Premier League I’d not hesitate. His all-round game has improved so much.

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“Remember I watch these games all the time. Last week I was at Brighton against Newcastle and Leigh could have played in either of those teams. Absolutely no danger.

“That’s how much he has come on as far as I’m concerned.”

Griffiths may be sweating over his spot in Brendan Rodgers’ first-team at Celtic Park over the international break as Moussa Dembele nears full fitness after an injury-hit few months.

The Scotland international has done a fine job of standing in for the ex-Fulham forward, but he is perhaps not finding the net as regularly in the Scottish Premiership as he would have hoped, with just three goals in seven games – with two of them coming on the opening day.

In other Newcastle United news, this Magpies defender is eager to exit the club in January.

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