NEIL Lennon is confident Leigh Griffiths can return to action in time to play for Celtic in the William Hill Scottish Cup final against Hearts next month and assist their bid to complete the treble treble.

Griffiths, who took an extended break from the game to deal with off-field issues back in December, has returned to training at Lennoxtown and is making steady progress.

Lennon is optimistic the Scotland striker will be able to make his competitive comeback for the Parkhead club, who are two games away from winning their eighth straight Ladbrokes Premiership, before the end of the 2018/19 campaign.

And he believes that if the 28-year-old does force his way back into the first team he can help their attempt to wrap an unprecedented third consecutive clean sweep of domestic trophies at Hampden on May 25.


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Asked if it was realistic to expect Griffiths to feature in the final, Lennon said: “What have we got? Six weeks. Yeah. It’s realistic for him.

“He’ll have to play and train at least two weeks going into that, so he then has a target of four weeks. He’s had targets. He’s working away in the background and doing his double sessions.

“He’s a player we could have been doing with over the piece as we have been working really with one striker (Odsonne Edouard). That one striker has done brilliantly for me, but it would be good to have another one in the building.

“He’s getting there. It’s a slow burner, but we understand that as he’s been out for such a long period of time.”

Lennon, who took over from Brendan Rodgers on an interim basis back in February when his countryman departed for Leicester City, led his team to a 3-0 win over Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup semi-final on Sunday.

He rated the display as the best of his second spell in charge of the Glasgow club and warned lifelong Hibernian fan Griffiths that he will have to show decent form to feature in the final against Hearts.

“It’s going to be difficult for him to get into the squad with the way the boys are playing,” he said. “There are a lot ahead of him and have earned the right to play in a cup final.

“I’m going to have to maybe disappoint a few as well, but they’ve been brilliant. I can’t believe we are talking about a treble treble, it’s phenomenal.

“There were a few disappointed not to start on Sunday and a few the same against Rangers. I get that, but I can only pick 11 and now we have even more competition with those boys back who were out for a concerted period of time coming back to full fitness.”


READ MORE: Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths set for phased return

Lennon added: “I wanted us to start the Aberdeen game well and that’s exactly what the players did. It was the best performance that I’ve had since I’ve been back here against a cracking team.

“It was a huge and it was a good scoreline. People may say the game hinged on the Dominic Ball red card, but I didn’t see it that way. I thought we were were in control and should have been one or two up before that happened. It took a brilliant piece of finishing from Jamesie (Forrest), but it was coming.

“I was pleased for the players who went into the side, Jozo (Simunovic), Jonny (Hayes). I was delighted Tom (Rogic) got his goal. He’s been out for a while and has been a bit off colour, but he scored a great goal for us and showed what he can do.

"So to have all of these players back is fantastic for me because I haven’t really had time to work with them on a day to day basis. The only downside was losing Ryan (Christie), who was in brilliant form."