Great Britain

Aidan Smith- Cotton wool at the ready to protect key Scotland players for next month

Could Leigh Griffiths restrict himself to just corners and free-kicks?
Could Leigh Griffiths restrict himself to just corners and free-kicks?

‘Will you ask Neil Lennon if he’d consent to Griffiths going non-contact until 26 March or shall I?’

Every time Leigh Griffiths skips about the attacking third, surprises big defenders by nicking the ball off them, and surely makes them think “Where the hell did he come from? I thought he had issues”, I wince. It’s like a jungle in there. Metatarsals are pesky things we didn’t used to know about but now we’re terribly aware of their delicate state. The man could get hurt.

Scott McTominay is coming back from his injury. The other day there were photos of him warm-weather trotting during Manchester United’s winter break. He doesn’t know when he’ll be back playing but we all hope it can be before 26 March. That’s our Euro 2020 playoff against Israel. John McGinn has just been given a date for his return and it’s the Saturday before when Aston Villa are away to Newcastle United.

What can be done to safeguard this vital trio until the big night at Hampden? Could Leigh Griffiths restrict himself to just corners and free-kicks where he’s showing almost every game that the enforced time away has not dulled the senses?

He really is the sweetest striker of a ball. I’m not saying he hits it up and over the wall better than Odsonne Edouard as the young Frenchman is currently in the middle of le patch purple.

But Griff is the best we’ve got and the stupendous one-two, right-hand corner of the net then left, which had Head & Shoulders model Joe Hart looking more A**e from Elbow, helped produce our joint all-time-greatest drawn match alongside 38-38 at Twickenham.

It would be too fanciful to hope that Manchester United could leave McTominay behind in Marbella to be excused the graft that dismally malfunctioning midfield requires right now. Besides, like all our key men, he will need game time to prove his robustness for national duty.

Similarly there would be no point cautioning McGinn, as Billy Joel almost once sang: “Don’t go chargin’”. McGinn charges; that is what he does. He couldn’t perform that reticent, sideways-passing, near-invisible role which seems to come naturally to so many of his contemporaries.

And will you ask Neil Lennon if he’d consent to Griffiths going non-contact until 26 March or shall I? So we’ve got to hope they stay fit. The good thing surely is that, unlike occasions in the past, everyone will want to play.