Former Celtic defender John Hughes admitted his surprise at the club’s decision to hand veteran Hoops hitman Leigh Griffiths a new deal.

The 30-year-old was the subject of uncertainty over his Parkhead future following reports that he was set to be a free agent in July, with the club hesitating on activating a one-year extension clause on his deal.

However, that speculation was soon dispelled following confirmation that the club had activated the option last week, following positive phone calls between Griffiths and new Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou.

Griffiths was recently pictured as part of the Bhoys’ pre-season entourage set to fly out from Glasgow to Wales, joining familiar faces such as Odsonne Edouard as well as newer ones in the likes of Liam Shaw.

The Scotland international has struggled with fitness issues in recent years.

Former manager Neil Lennon – who confined Griffiths to a peripheral role last season – went public in his scathing criticism of Griffiths’ fitness and professionalism earlier in the summer.

Consequentially, Hughes admitted his surprise at the decision to keep Griffiths on.

“It surprised me a little bit. There’s no doubting he’s a natural goalscorer,” Hughes told BBC Sportsound (via Glasgow Times)

“That year he scored 40 goals, you think its going to be there every year, but that is never the case

“All the problems Leigh has had over the years – with the mental problems, and all that stuff, but mostly the indiscipline problems in terms of the fitness levels and stuff. That would have been a red flag for me.”

Read Celtic Verdict

With Odsonne Edouard likely to be sold despite talks breaking down with Leicester City, Griffiths remaining for another year could be a useful stop-gap to prevent a shortage of striking options.

Did Griffiths deserve a new deal?

Yes

No

Postecoglou has handed Griffiths a lifeline – one he would be foolish not to grasp with both hands.

If the striker, who is also adept on the right, can shrug off his disciplinary malaise then the club could rediscover the experienced asset that once starred at Celtic Park.