Leigh Griffiths: Fit-again striker eyes South American trip with Scotland

By Chris McLaughlinBBC Scotland
Leigh Griffiths takes a shot for Celtic against Ross County
Leigh Griffiths returned from over two months out injured against Ross County

Leigh Griffiths says he wants to be involved in Scotland's end-of-season friendlies against Mexico and Peru.

The Celtic striker made his return from a January calf injury in Saturday's 3-0 win over Ross County.

Several players are expected to opt to rest and sit out the long-haul trip, but Griffiths is keen to travel.

"I've missed a lot of game time; the games at the end of the season, even though they're friendlies, will be competitive," the 27-year-old said.

"They will stand me in good stead coming back to Celtic for pre-season."

Griffiths' injury lay-off meant he missed Scotland's recent double-header against Costa Rica and Hungary.

Manager Alex McLeish next leads the national team against Mexico on 29 May, then Peru on 2 June, with both opponents preparing for the World Cup.

"You always want to be involved in international duties but you cant help being injured," Griffiths said.

Matt Phillips in action for Scotland against Costa Rica
In Griffiths' absence, Matt Phillips led the line in Scotland's defeat by Costa Rica

"There's another couple of good friendly fixtures coming up at the end of the season which I'm hoping to be involved in and try and stake my claim for the games towards the end of the year.

"They're exciting games you want to go and play in and pulling on the national jersey means everything to me."

The striker is three goals short of a century in Celtic colours - a landmark he hopes to reach by the end of the season.

Griffiths saw a calf specialist in London and Manchester to get to the bottom of his persistent problems with the muscles.

"After he assessed me the first time he identified straight away where the problem was coming from," he said. "That's the areas we worked on over the few days we were together and I came back here, started running again and felt no pain.

Leigh Griffiths is injured against Hibernian
Griffiths was injured in late January against former club Hibernian, and was replaced after scoring the game's only goal

"I've got a tear in my calf muscle but the problem wasn't coming from there, it was coming from my hips. My glutes were that tight that my hamstrings and calves were doing double the workload they should have been.

"It's a huge relief, a weight off my shoulders that every time I step out on the field I've not got this thought in the back of my mind that it's going to keep going.

"I can just concentrate on my football now and get back in the team.

"I knew from the start of the season coming in I'd have a good chance of hitting the 100-goal mark. My next target is to hit that by the end of the season."

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