Scott Brown has applauded the “bravery” of Leigh Griffiths after the Scotland striker stepped down from international duty this week.

Griffiths withdrew from Alex McLeish’s squad for tonight’s Nations League game against Israel and Monday night’s friendly against Portugal as he maintained that he needed to focus on his fitness.

There has been some suggestion that Griffiths has burned his bridges with the national team over his withdrawal, something that Brown has refuted.

And the Hoops midfielder believes that the striker’s decision can be the best call for both club and country.

"It's brave of the wee man to do that,” he said.

“You have got to give him a bit of credit for coming out and actually saying that because there aren’t a lot of people who would actually have done that. He wants to get himself fitter and we want him back and scoring 20 or 30 goals a season. The wee man will do that.

“Once he starts playing and getting confidence and everyone gets off his back he’ll be a great player for both club and country.”

Interestingly, Brown also raised the possibility of both Steven Naismith and Griffiths forming a front partnership for McLeish’s side.

Griffiths made no secret of the fact he was overlooked for a starting berth for last month’s game against Albania with Naismith taking the shirt but former Scotland skipper Brown has queried whether they could play together.

“To be fair, Naisy is a great pro,” said Brown. “He has been there and done it all and has worked with various managers down in England as well. He has been fantastic and Griff has been fantastic and who knows maybe the partnership between them could work well for Scotland.”

In any case, Brown believes that Griffiths will only be at his best once he feels within himself that he is properly match sharp.

“He is in here, he has been working hard,” said the midfielder. “He says himself that he wants to get as fit as he possibly can. He is in here working hard. He could have gone away with Scotland but not have worked quite so hard with two games coming up and the possibility of not much game time. He has been doing double sessions and that will benefit him.

“He is a great character. It is good to have people like that in the dressing room but he is deadly serious about his football. He wants to score goals and that is what makes him happy. He always wants to be there or thereabouts and as soon as someone has the ball he is in the box looking to cause people problems. He just needs that one to fall at his feet and start going. He will score us lots of goals which is why the manager keeps playing him.

“He is not guaranteed to go away and play. Griff has scored some great goals for Scotland, especially against England and his work rate is always exceptional. What he gives us is that he can go the one behind. He stretches defences but if he feels that if he is not 100% and wants to work on that then that will benefit him.

“As soon as one thing happens people want to dive in on top of him but they forget about what he has done in the past for club and for country.”