WHEN Leigh Griffiths said that he was born for the Old Firm game, one would surmise he didn’t just mean the noise-up element of it all. From wiping his nose on a corner flag to flying his own while celebrating among the Celtic fans at Ibrox, Griffiths certainly seems made for the pantomime element of it all. And that’s before we get round to stewards guarding goalposts for fear of scarf-gate.

But if his break from the game was no laughing matter then Griffiths might fancy that Sunday presents the ideal stage to prove an old saying. If the striker finds himself among the goals the joke will be on those who took some delight in the complicated personal issues that brought about his enforced absence from his club.

Getting the last laugh, though, will involve making sure he is on the pitch. And on that front, the Scotland striker’s hand hasn’t been stronger since Ronny Deila was in charge of the Parkhead side.

Glasgow Times:

For the first time since Deila’s era, there is a case to be made that Griffiths belongs in Celtic’s strongest starting XI. Since January, the striker has started more games – 11 in seven weeks – and has been a more pivotal player than at any time since he netted 40 goals under the Norwegian. He had one spell under Brendan Rodgers when he netted eight goals across a period of a few months but his issue was that the games did not come in succession as he slotted in for the injured Moussa Dembele.

With eight goals now since the return of the break in January, Griffiths will be itching for a starting berth on Sunday at Ibrox.

Few among us would have foreseen the striker’s return to Neil Lennon’s thinking. Being honest, Griffiths himself might even fall into that category. Indeed, there was much chatter in the winter transfer window of where the striker’s next move would be with a loan deal regarded as his most likely next step.

That Griffiths has returned to hint at former glories hasn’t just ensured that sightings of Patryk Klimala have been rare but has given Lennon genuine options, not just up front but in how he sets his team up. There were points when Griffiths and Odsonne Edouard tried to play together with the partnership laboured and forced, as if two strangers had been thrown a ball.

Glasgow Times:

Since January, however, it has been a different story as last Saturday’s passages of play between the two would underline. And if Griffiths has a bit of vim and verve about him then his hunger to excel in this fixture will be particularly keen.

The 29-year-old is not the only one who will want the chance of reply on Sunday. Lennon, too, will fancy that he has a point to make as will those who played in the 2-1 defeat at Celtic Park last time around. If the Rangers celebrations that day ensured that the Parkhead side’s year ended on a sour note then it won’t have been forgotten about this weekend.