SCOTLAND manager Alex McLeish has admitted he is keen for Leigh Griffiths to get more game time and revealed he is set to hold talks with his Celtic counterpart Brendan Rodgers later this week.

Griffiths has only started one game for the Scottish champions – the 1-0 defeat to Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday – this season and has failed to net a single goal in his three appearances since returning from surgery.

Rodgers has played Moussa Dembele, who has been out injured in the past three weeks, and Odsonne Edouard, who the Parkhead club paid a record £9 million fee for during the summer, up front.

McLeish would like Griffiths to be fully fit and in top form for the first competitive match of his second spell in charge of the national team against Albania in the UEFA Nations League at Hampden next month.

He is due to meet with Rodgers when the Northern Irishman returns from Greece, where Celtic will take on AEK Athens in the second leg of their Champions League third qualifying round tie tonight, and will discuss the player’s situation.

“It would be difficult for Leigh to keep his level if he’s not playing much and keep his match fitness,” he said. “That’s a concern. “It would be very difficult to pick players when they are not playing. They lose match fitness.

“I don’t have anything up my sleeve. I wish I had. We want Leigh back to top fitness because when he came into the team in the last qualifying campaign he was on fire. The challenge is for Leigh to bang in the goals.

“Leigh is better when he plays. He needs to be playing, keeping sharp and scoring goals. We want him to play to the same level every week. There is no way I can tell managers what to do and how to run their teams. I will see Brendan at the end of this week anyway to have a chat.”

Griffiths became a hero to the Tartan Army when he netted two long-range free-kicks late on in the Russia 2018 qualifier against England at Hampden in June last year and has since established himself as Scotland’s first choice striker.

McLeish has been encouraged by the displays of Oliver McBurnie, Matt Phillips and Johnny Russell in attack in the matches he has taken charge of, but admitted that he had limited options in the final third.

“We know that’s where we’re short,” he said. “I can’t dig someone out of fresh air, but we are keeping an eye on every centre-forward. We hope Griffiths can be ready. At the moment he looks in good condition.

“I believe there are others in the team who can get goals. Whether it’s through a set piece or through wide men coming in or from midfielders scoring. But we are obviously looking for this talisman up front.”

Meanwhile, McLeish admitted it would be beneficial to Scotland if Celtic overcome AEK in the Olympic Stadium tonight and progress to the group stages of Europe’s premier club competition for the third season in a row.

“There’s no doubting the difference between the Champions League and the Premiership,” he said. Playing in those big European games should increase your knowledge and your technical abil-ity with the lessons you learn.

“It’s been tough for Celtic in terms of the teams they’ve been drawn against in recent seasons – the Barcelonas and PSGs – but the players are growing every year as a result of that; they have more nous now.”

Elsewhere, McLeish confirmed that John Souttar, who was outstanding for Hearts in their win over Celtic at the weekend, had a chance of a call-up for the friendly against Belgium at Hampden on Friday, September 7, and Albania three days later.

“John Souttar is on the radar,” he said. “There are lots of players on the radar. But it’s about how we find the goalscorer.”