Jim Goodwin weighing up move for free agent Leigh Griffiths as St Mirren boss backs himself to get best out of ex-Celtic striker

Griffiths had his Hoops contract ripped up last week and the Buddies could launch an approach as cover for injured Eamonn Brophy
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St Mirren boss Jim Goodwin has backed himself to “get the best out of” Leigh Griffiths as he considers making a move to sign the former Celtic talisman.

The striker, who spent the first half of the season on loan at Dundee, is now a free agent after having his Hoops contract ripped up last week.

Griffiths has turned down an offer from the Dens Park outfit to re-join the Tayside club, with League One side Falkirk reportedly willing to pay him almost £1,500 a week to revive their promotion push.

Leigh Griffiths is now a free agent  (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)Leigh Griffiths is now a free agent  (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Leigh Griffiths is now a free agent (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

However, Goodwin could offer the hitman a Premiership lifeline with the Paisley outfit and he believes he can help Griffiths back on the straight and narrow following his well-documented off-field troubles.

The Irishman has been a long-term admirer of the 31-year-old ex-Scotland internationalist and with Eamonn Brophy likely to face a spell on the sidelines through injury, Goodwin confirmed Griffiths features highly on his list of options available after the January transfer window closed for business.

He admitted: “I would definitely always fancy myself to manage players in the way that would get the best out of them.

“Leigh is a player I’ve admired from afar because he’s always been out of our reach, playing for Celtic and banging in goals for them at the highest level.

“It’s less than five years ago that he was scoring those fantastic free-kicks for Scotland against England.

“Unfortunately, we’d all agree it hasn’t quite worked out for him in the last 12-18 months and he hasn’t played as often as he’d have liked but he’s still a good player and one of the most natural goalscorers Scotland have got.

“It’s up to Leigh where he wants to go from now until the end of the season. I’m sure Dundee would like to keep him and there will be two or three other clubs out there who will have looked at his goalscoring record and thought: ‘He might be the answer for us.’

Celtic forward Leigh Griffiths appears to have played his last game for the club. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)Celtic forward Leigh Griffiths appears to have played his last game for the club. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Celtic forward Leigh Griffiths appears to have played his last game for the club. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

“But he’s definitely on my list at the moment, depending on the outcome of Eamonn Brophy’s scan on his right ankle.”

Despite his fitness struggles and lack of form in recent seasons, Goodwin is adamant Griffiths still has plenty to offer.

He added: “I think he’s at a good age and that he still has a lot to offer. He needs to get himself fitter and sharper again and I believe he would be honest enough to admit that himself.

“We could help him with that if we did manage to do some kind of deal.

“In order for players to be match fit they need to be playing regularly and I think that’s what Leigh Griffiths is needing, whether that’s at a club like ourselves or wherever.

“He needs to know he’d be playing week in and week out and to be given that opportunity.

“I would back myself to get the best out of any player but I don’t think it would take a lot with Leigh because he’s a quality footballer and if you can create openings for quality strikers then, more often than not, they’ll put the ball in the back of the net, which is what Leigh has made a career out of doing.

Leigh Griffiths is a free agent. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)Leigh Griffiths is a free agent. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Leigh Griffiths is a free agent. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

“Whether or not we go back into the market depends on the results of the Brophy scan but there aren’t many free agents around better than Leigh or who have a better, proven track record.

“If there’s a chance to do something, we’ll assess it then. I’ve been speaking to his agent but there hasn’t been an offer put in front of Leigh at this moment in time.”

Goodwin admits he had a sleepless night following the injury sustained to Eamonn Brophy as he joined fellow frontman Curtis Main on the treatment table.

With Kristian Dennis departing for English League Two side Carlisle United on deadline day, it leaves Goodwin light on attacking options.

He stated: “As soon as Eamonn was injured against Motherwell on Tuesday I sat up until two in the morning and went through all the players we have on our data base and looked at all the platforms we have.

“I scoured the market to see who would be available within our price range and Leigh is on that list, which is all I can say at the moment.

“He’s probably the best one on the list which, logistically, we could make work.

“There are lots of players in Europe who might do a job but there’s a hell of a lot of red tape involved in bringing foreign players into the country plus there are Covid issues and accommodation costs to factor in as well.

“Leigh lives in Bothwell, which is half an hour up the road so, if we’re in a position where we need to do some business, he would be the best option for us.”

Goodwin confirmed he is still awaiting the scan results of Brophy’s injury but reckons he could be out of action for several months.

Eamonn Brophy comes off injured during a cinch Premiership match between Aberdeen and St Mirren.Eamonn Brophy comes off injured during a cinch Premiership match between Aberdeen and St Mirren.
Eamonn Brophy comes off injured during a cinch Premiership match between Aberdeen and St Mirren.

He said: “It’s looking like it will be a number of weeks. Our physio says it looks like a slight tear on the ligament on the outside of his right ankle.

“Eamonn’s just been really unfortunate in the last two or three years with the knocks he’s picked up.

“That was quite an innocuous one the other night. The centre-half just gave him a little nudge, it wasn’t a tackle. He just rolled his ankle and he felt something go.

“It’s disappointing. It’s been a little bit too stop-start for him. He had the hamstring problem, he came here with the foot injury last season, there’s been Covid issues.

“We’re all just desperate to keep Eamonn fit and available because we know if we can get him a good run of games he’ll score goals.

“Hopefully once he’s over this one we can get him back for a longer run.”