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Leigh Griffiths has reaffirmed his desire to play for Scotland after having to deal with the frustrations of his commitment being widely questioned.
The 28-year-old Celtic striker withdrew from Alex McLeish’s squad for the double header against Israel and Portugal in October to focus on his fitness.
Illness and injury led to six weeks out before he came off the bench to score the third goal in the 3-0 win over Hamilton last week.
Before Celtic’s Premiership game against Motherwell at Fir Park tomorrow night, Griffiths told his tale when asked if he had been brave to pull out of McLeish’s squad to get himself right.
“You could say it was brave but a lot of people didn’t agree with that and I had to take the abuse I got on the chin,” said Griffiths, who noted that Scotland were on Sunday drawn against Belgium, Cyprus, San Marino, Russia and Kazakhstan for the 2020 European Championships.
He added: “It was unfortunate that I was ill and injured at the same time. It is always difficult when people want to question it.
“Online, it is very difficult to bite your tongue. You just need to step back and try to ignore but it is difficult when you are in the street and people ask questions, you just need to give the answer you have been saying all along.
“I have said time and again that there is no bigger honour in football than representing your country and I am still the same.
“You hear a lot of people venting their opinions, saying I took the huff because I wasn’t going to be playing.
“It wasn’t like that at all. I have taken it on the chin here when I have been playing well and then not been playing the next game.
“I wanted to concentrate on being fit. Looking forward, I am more than happy to go into the Scotland squad if I am selected.
“I was looking at the draw for Euro 2020 and we have a good group for that and hopefully I am involved.
“That all comes from playing well for Celtic and getting game time.”
Griffiths insists his relationship with McLeish is strong as he looks to feature at Fir Park, after being an unused substitute in Sunday’s Scottish League Cup final win over Aberdeen at Hampden Park.
He said: “Everything is fine. Me and Mr McLeish had a chat. It wasn’t clear-the-air talks but I vented my personal opinion of what I wanted to do and he accepted that.
“There was no animosity or anger between either of us. I texted him after they won the two games to get into the play-off [Albania and Israel] and he quickly replied. There is no animosity at all and hopefully I am still in his plans.”
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