JOHN RANKIN has questioned whether Neil Lennon has made the right decision in leaving Leigh Griffiths out of Celtic’s squad that is heading to France.

Scotland international Griffiths did not travel with the Hoops to their training camp in Loughborough and will now miss out on matches against Lyon, Nice and PSG due to fitness issues meaning he was left to work on his own at Lennoxtown.

The 29-year-old, who turns 30 next month, now faces a battle to edge his way into Neil Lennon’s plans ahead of the new season starting on August 1.

But former Dundee United and Hibs man Rankin, who retired from football last month, reckons Celtic should have handled the situation differently instead of leaving Griffiths out on a limb.

Speaking on BBC Sportsound he said: "I question whether dealing with it this way is the best way to handle it.

"Maybe keeping him among the group might have been better than leaving him here and punishing him.

"He’s not responded himself when he’s been training alone during lockdown, and he’s now going to be forced to stay here and train alone again.

"Is that going to be the best way of getting him back for the start of the season?

"Maybe Neil’s making everyone looking at it from the outside realise that Leigh’s not been putting in the effort that’s required.

"But where else are Celtic going to get the goals Leigh Griffiths will get? They need him."

He continued: "It’s down to character and discipline - the man can make himself a legend.

"I hope he applies himself in the next few weeks and it sets him up for the rest of the season.

"You don’t want your career to end prematurely. You look back at a game eleven years ago and it feels like yesterday.

"Leigh Griffiths has still got plenty of time ahead of him. Especially when you’re at a club like Celtic, you want to make the most of it while you can.

"There’s a championship to be played for and with ten-in-a-row there’s the chance to go down in Celtic’s history. There’s European games.

"Scotland have the chance to play in a major tournament for the first time in 23 years.

"If he went away and bulked himself up, and he came back heavier but his body fat was down, I’d have a bit of sympathy for him. If he’d been making himself more robust, that’s one thing.

"But he’s gone away and put body fat on, and Celtic have punished him.

"During the lockdown you’re dealing first-hand with players and more often than not you’re asking for half-an-hour or an hour from them to go and do some exercise, not just for their physical state but for their mental state.

"It looks like Leigh hasn’t done that."

John Hughes also had sympathy for Griffths, who he managed at Falkirk, but he insists the squad exclusion could work in his favour if he puts in the work to get back to full fitness.

He added: “It is disappointing not just for Celtic but for Leigh as he is a lovely guy, I know him personally.

“I have always said if you play him on a regular basis he will get well into 20-25 goals a season.

“I just hope he can get his head down, get himself fit and get himself back in that Celtic team.

“I’m hoping it might just be the wake-up call, he might just say I’m going to work morning, noon and night so when they come back from France I’m going to be right back in amongst it.

“I love him, I absolutely love him to bits.

“He is a lovely lad and I think it could be the best thing that could ever happen to Leigh Griffiths.

“I hope he just goes I’ll show these guys and he gets back and he’s scoring all the goals for Celtic and he’s back in the Scotland squad.”