Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths is taking a break from football as he seeks help for ongoing personal issues, Hoops manager Brendan Rodgers revealed on Wednesday.
Griffiths has endured a difficult season marred by injury problems, but Rodgers said the Scotland international’s decision to step away from the sport was prompted by off-field troubles.
The 28-year-old is widely reported to have entered a treatment facility to deal with a gambling addiction.
“Leigh will be taken out of football now for a little period of time,” Rodgers told reporters.
“Leigh has had ongoing issues now for a number of months and he has done amazing to play to the level and score some of the goals he has.
“But he has reached the point where it is a struggle for him and we are going to give him all the professional help that he possibly needs to get himself into a good place again.”
Griffiths came off the bench in Celtic’s 5-1 Scottish Premiership win over Kilmarnock at the weekend, but he missed training on Wednesday and is out of the Europa League Group B clash with Salzburg on Thursday.
Asked if it was more than a physical injury, Rodgers said: “Yes it has been ongoing in my time here with Leigh.
“I am very close with him, we have a very strong relationship and he has had a number of issues around outside of the football environment and thankfully for him, there is great support out there and it is no longer a weakness now to talk.”
Although he has scored only six goals this season, the absence of the experienced Griffiths will be a blow to Celtic as they bid to retain the Scottish title.
Rodgers’ side are two points clear of second-placed Rangers and face their Old Firm rivals in a crucial clash on December 29.
© Agence France-Presse (Additional edits by Michael Corry)