Scotland need Leigh Griffiths for goals - Billy Dodds

Scotland and Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths has not played since late January
Scotland and Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths has not played since late January

New Scotland boss Alex McLeish needs a fit and firing Leigh Griffiths, says former international Billy Dodds.

The Celtic centre forward, 27, is currently sidelined by the recurrence of a calf injury, missing the beginning of McLeish's second spell in charge.

In his absence, Swansea City's Oli McBurnie was given a debut in Friday's 1-0 loss to Costa Rica.

"Leigh Griffiths is our best hope of goals, we need him back fit," Dodds told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound.

"I worked with Leigh as a young lad [while coaching at Dundee] and I had my worries but he's seen off everybody that challenges him at Celtic."

Griffiths, who has scored four goals in 17 Scotland appearances, has not played since coming off shortly after scoring against former team Hibernian on 27 January.

In an injury-interrupted season, he has netted 12 times in 32 club games, while he scored 18 in the previous campaign, often playing second fiddle to Moussa Dembele.

His most prolific period with the Scottish champions came in 2015-16, with 40 goals in 52 outings.

Griffiths won his first cap as a substitute against Luxembourg in 2012 but had to wait until last year for his first goals, two fantastic free kicks against England at Hampden in a 2-2 draw.

He opened the scoring in October's must-win match in Slovenia but another 2-2 draw ended hopes of reaching the World Cup play-offs.

"The two free kicks have elevated his confidence to do it at this level," said 49-year-old Dodds, who scored seven international goals in 26 Scotland games.

"The calf is a weakness once it goes, I've had a couple of strains myself. You need to strengthen it all the time or else it can be a worry - just a little turn and it pops, which is horrendous.

"Hopefully he gets over it and gets a consistent run and is fit for the big games coming up for Celtic and Scotland."

Oli McBurnie led the attack for Scotland against Costa Rica
McBurnie led the attack for Scotland against Costa Rica

Steven Fletcher is another experienced striker missing through injury, while McLeish overlooked Chris Martin and Jordan Rhodes, who have been struggling for game time this season.

McBurnie is on loan at Barnsley and has scored six goals in nine outings for the Championship side.

One of three 21-year-olds given a debut by McLeish at Hampden, his work-rate impressed Dodds.

"I don't know if he's a natural goalscorer," he said. "He look awkward at times but I liked the way he played. His attitude was great and that goes a long way in the game.

"I thought, first half, the energy wasn't there from the players but it was from McBurnie."

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