Leigh Griffiths: Celtic striker can 'win fans back', says manager Ange Postecoglou

Leigh Griffiths received a mixed reception at Celtic Park last Saturday, his first appearance of the season
Leigh Griffiths received a mixed reception at Celtic Park last Saturday, his first appearance of the season

Ange Postecoglou says Leigh Griffiths can "win back" the Celtic fans after being booed by some of them during Saturday's defeat by West Ham United.

The striker, 30, is out of Celtic's Champions League qualifier second leg against Midtjylland with a "slight injury", manager Postecoglou said.

Griffiths was cleared of criminality this month over alleged inappropriate texts to an underage girl.

"Leigh is in the same position as all of us," Postecoglou added.

"We represent the football club. The supporters are there to judge us on how we perform and what we do. We have to accept the response we get.

"For the most part Leigh has still got a positive response from the crowd because they acknowledge the fact he has had an incredible career at Celtic.

"If there are people that express dissatisfaction then it's up to him to show with his performances and the way he goes about things. I'm sure he can win them back very quickly."

Griffiths' absence is offset by the return of Albian Ajeti after the Swiss striker missed the 6-2 friendly thrashing by West Ham with a knock.

Despite a dominant first performance under Postecoglou, Celtic were held 1-1 by Danes Midtjylland at home in the first leg, with Vasilis Barkas conceding a soft equaliser after both sides were reduced to 10 men.

It was the latest high-profile error by the Greek goalkeeper, but Postecoglou is "shying away from focusing on individuals" as he tries to steer Celtic through to a likely meeting with PSV Eindhoven in the third qualifying round.

The manager hopes to have newly-signed defender Carl Starfelt, who is in quarantine after arriving from Russia, available for Saturday's Premiership opener against Hearts.

In the meantime, he will again have to put faith in a youthful backline against Midtjylland after Nir Bitton's dismissal led to Celtic playing the second half with 18-year-old Dane Murray partnering Stephen Welsh, 21.

The delay in bringing in new players "adds a bit of anxiety" for Postecoglou, with Japanese playmaker Kyogo Furuhashi also yet to complete his quarantine after signing from Vissel Kobe.

"We would be looking at a different scenario in terms of how I felt about how we are moving on transfers if we already had the ones we had signed in," said the manager.

"We are very thin on numbers. It's a very very young group in terms of age and experience."

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