Scott Brown welcomes Leigh Griffiths' return to Celtic squad

Celtic's Leigh Griffiths' is congratulated by team-mate Scott Brown during the Europa League, Group B match against Rosenborg
Image: Leigh Griffiths has been taking time away from football since December

Scott Brown says Celtic will not rush Leigh Griffiths back from his self-imposed exile.

It was confirmed on Wednesday that the Scotland striker will this week begin a "phased return" to his first-team Hoops duties as he continues to deal with a number of personal issues.

The 28-year-old has been out since December but is due to return to work at the club's Lennoxtown training complex, in conjunction with the club's medical and sports science staff, as he eyes up an eventual return to action.

Boss Neil Lennon insists the club are not putting a timescale on when they expect him to see him back in a Celtic shirt.

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And Brown believes it is only right the former Wolves and Hibernian man is given all the time he needs.

"We're glad for Leigh," said the Hoops captain. "We just want to give him a lot of space and let him decide when he needs to come back.

"We don't want to talk about him too much.

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"We just want to make sure he's OK, he's happy and back in the place that he loves to be."

Scotland could have done with both Griffiths and Brown last week as Alex McLeish's team slumped to a shock 3-0 defeat to Kazakhstan in their opening European Qualifier.

Scotland's Oli McBurnie (L) competes with Kazakhstan's Serhiy Malyi. 2:46
Highlights of Scotland's European Qualifier opener against Kazakhstan

But Brown insists he has no regrets about hanging up his international boots for the second time at the end of the qualifiers for last year's World Cup.

The midfielder was persuaded by former Scotland boss Gordon Strachan to reverse his original retirement decision after just two months in October 2016.

"I was in Dublin playing golf during the international break, it was lovely - I'm not going to lie," he said. "It was good for me to get some time to relax and take some time away from football.

Scotland's Alex McLeish gestures on the touchline during the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying, Group I match at the Astana Arena. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 21, 2019. See PA story SOCCER Kazakhstan. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Commercial use only with prior written consent of the Scottish FA.
Image: Scotland manager Alex McLeish shows his displeasure in Kazakhstan

"I made the decision to retire to prolong my Celtic career and I still stick by that."

Laughing, the 33-year-old added: "I'm not coming out of retirement again. I've done it once.

"It's always hard. I just wish Scotland all the best. I'm not there now and I would never say a bad word about any of the lads or the management staff. Here's hoping they can qualify."

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