Alex McLeish facing striker crisis with Griffiths and Naismith out
Alex McLeish facing striker crisis ahead of Scotland’s Nations League double header against Albania and Israel with Leigh Griffiths joining Steven Naismith on list of absentees
- Scotland boss Alex McLeish faces a striker crisis for next month’s internationals
- Celtics’ Leigh Griffiths is set to join Steven Naismith on the list of absentees
- Griffiths is a doubt to be match fit for the critical games with Albania and Israel
- Hearts top scorer Naismith faces potential surgery on a knee cartilage tear
Scotland manager Alex McLeish faces a striker crisis for next month’s Nations League double header, with Leigh Griffiths set to join Steven Naismith on the list of absentees.
Hearts top scorer Naismith faces the prospect of surgery on a knee cartilage tear and could be sidelined for eight weeks.
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, has cast doubt on the chances of Griffiths being match fit for the critical games with Albania and Israel.
Scotland boss Alex McLeish faces a striker crisis for next month’s Nations League matches
Forced to choose between Naismith and Griffiths for the 2-0 win over Albania in Glasgow last month, McLeish is now likely to have neither available for the return in Shkoder on November 17 or the clash with Israel at Hampden on November 20.
It could mean Sheffield Wednesday’s Steven Fletcher earns his first cap since a 2-2 draw with Slovenia 12 months ago.
Griffiths withdrew from the squad to face Israel and Portugal, citing a need to improve his fitness levels.
Now recovering from a calf problem, the striker is one of ten Celtic players set to miss tonight’s trip to Dundee, with boss Rodgers unable to put a timescale on how soon the forward might be fully fit.
Brendan Rodgers cast doubt on the chances of Griffiths being fit to play Albania and Israel
Hearts top scorer Naismith faces the prospect of surgery on a knee cartilage tear
‘I’m not sure. That will depend on Leigh, how quickly he responds to treatment and how hard he works to get fit.
‘He’s getting better and his calf injury is coming towards its end. He’s not on the playing field yet but he’s working with the medical team and the sports science team to get as fit as he possibly can.
‘However, even if he is fit for that period he certainly won’t be match fit.
‘I feel for Steven Naismith, because he’s made a great start to the season and done really well for Scotland.
‘I spoke to Alex McLeish at a function last week and we had a good chat about things and I’m sure he’ll have spoken to Leigh.
‘But we have ten players out injured at the moment and they’re all working hard to get back as quickly as possible.’
It could mean Sheffield Wednesday’s Steven Fletcher earns his first cap for 12 months
Hearts boss Craig Levein, meanwhile, believes Naismith will miss up to eight weeks after being diagnosed with cartilage damage.
The on-loan Norwich forward hobbled out of Sunday’s Betfred Cup semi-final loss to Celtic inside the opening ten minutes, despite trying to play on with the injury.
Levein said: ‘Naisy looks like he’s got a cartilage problem so will need an operation.
‘It’s a bit more complicated than usual because he’s a Norwich player, so we need to send him back down there for an assessment.
‘They, as a parent club, will decide what’s happening. But I’m pretty sure he’ll go under the knife in the next two or three days.
‘It looks like a little tear in his cartilage. So we’re talking about maybe six to eight weeks, although I’m just guessing at the moment.’
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