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Griffiths blow to Hoops' Euro hopes

Europa League: Copenhagen v Celtic, Live BT Sport 3 (KO 5.55)

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Leigh Griffiths suffered an injury in training and will miss tonight’s game

Leigh Griffiths suffered an injury in training and will miss tonight’s game

Leigh Griffiths suffered an injury in training and will miss tonight’s game

Celtic boss Neil Lennon will have to do without Leigh Griffiths after the striker picked up an injury ahead of the Europa League clash with FC Copenhagen tonight.

The Scotland attacker and defender Greg Taylor did not travel to Denmark for the first leg of the last-32 clash, nor did longer-term injured defender Hatem Abd Elhamed.

As a partner to Odsonne Edouard, Griffiths has been key to the 3-5-2 formation that Lennon has preferred to the 4-2-3-1 since the start of 2020, which has brought nine wins out of nine in all competitions.

Speaking at the Parken stadium, Lennon said: "Hatem Elhamed did not travel, Greg Taylor picked up an injury at the weekend and Leigh Griffiths picked up an injury in training, a slight twinge.

"I'm hoping the latter two will be fit for the weekend.

"We can use both systems, we are comfortable with both and we have a fair idea of how we want to play tomorrow.

"I expect a difficult game, tactically they are smart. We are in good form, confidence is good. I am not taking anything for granted but we are looking forward to the game.

"The stadium is magnificent, I have just been out looking at it, the pitch has been re-laid and looks good and the players will get very excited about the game when they get here.

"I touched on a couple of injuries but I have a good complement of players here as well.

"Confidence is good but obviously we are not taking anything for granted in terms of Copenhagen.

"They are a strong team and they are difficult to beat."

FC Copenhagen boss Stale Solbakken highlighted several reasons why Celtic are in better shape than his side but insists they still have a chance to triumph.

The Danish side returned from their winter break to lose 1-0 last Friday to struggling Esbjerg.

Despite injuries to players such as Viktor Fischer, Jonas Wind, Nicolai Boilesen and Robert Mudrazija, they have decided to sell Cyprus international Pieros Sotiriou to Astana .

Solbakken, who was in his first spell as Copenhagen boss when they beat Celtic 3-1 in the 2006/07 Champions League group stage, after losing 1-0 in Glasgow, said: "It is a 50-50 tie here.

"If you see Celtic's last nine games and how they have coped with the loss against Rangers in the league, they have had a tremendous comeback.

"Their stability has been good. They have had very few changes in the line-up from game to game, they have played 3-5-2 with great success.

"They have three powerhouses at centre-backs, they have strength in midfield and the partnership up front has worked well for them.

"They have found a different rhythm from us, we have played friendlies and had a very weak second half of the opening game of the year.

"We have had a few struggles with short and long-term injuries and at this moment there are only four or five players who are definite starters in my line-up. Mr Lennon has more security in that way.

"But in one game here, anything can happen as we have shown so many times. If one good thing can happen for us tomorrow and we carry a good result and performance into the second game then obviously anything can happen.

"There is not that big a difference between the teams and I will be disappointed if we don't have our moments tomorrow, create something, be good on the ball and dominate for periods.

"But Celtic have been great in Europe, beating Lazio twice, beating Rennes from France so they are rock solid and that is credit to the manager of Celtic, coming after Brendan Rodgers and doing so well."

The video assistant referee (VAR) system will be in operation tonight but the former Wolves boss is wary of the system, which has come in for so much criticism in England this season.

The 51-year-old Norwegian said: "Neither we nor Celtic are very experienced with VAR.

"There is no VAR in Scotland so we are on even terms there. From what I have seen so far with VAR, I like the idea but don't like the way it works.

"It takes too much power from the referee. In terms of the words clear and obvious, I think that has been messed with really badly in too many situations.

"There is so much that is not clear and obvious."


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