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Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths sets sights on 40-goal milestone for the season

St JohnstoneSt Johnstone
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In-form Celtic hitman Leigh Griffiths has warned opposition defences he is targeting 40 goals and beyond this season.

The 25-year-old believes he is in the form of his life after netting nine goals in his last five games.

He claimed the match ball with a hat-trick during Tuesday night's incredible 8-1 thumping of Hamilton to take this campaign's tally to 27.

Now he insists he is still hungry for more.

With 16 games in the Ladbrokes Premiership still to be played, as well as the potential of another six in the cup competitions - including next month's William Hill Scottish Cup last 16 clash with minnows East Kilbride - there is plenty of scope for Griffiths to become the first Celt since Henrik Larsson in 2001 to hit 40 goals.

The Scotland striker said: "I feel like I'm in the form of my life right now.

"My confidence is sky high. I feel like I'm going into every game capable of scoring goals. I've only got one more goal to equal my record for a whole season when I was at Hibs.

"I got 28 there and have got 27 now, with still a number of games to go, so hopefully I go on to beat that and Kris Commons' mark of 31 from a couple of years back.

"My next target is 30 and I want to hit that as quickly as possible. Then we will look to other targets.

"Yeah these records matter to me. As a striker you want to be selfish with scoring goals. If you set targets and reach them you will be happy. But you can't just set one, you have to keep setting them higher and higher.

"At the start of the season I aim to hit 20, then it's 25, then 30. Once I hit 30 I'll want to hit 40 and then see where I am at the end of the season."

Celtic face St Johnstone on Saturday as they look to protect their six-point lead at the top of the table.

But Griffiths is already eyeing up the cup clash with Kilby on February 7.

He was in the K Park crowd to see the Lowland League outfit overcome his old youth team Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale on Wednesday to set up the David-v-Goliath showdown.

But while the match could represent a chance for him to significantly boost his collection of goals for the year, he insists it is more important Celtic focus on not slipping on a huge banana skin.

"We still need to be professional and go do our jobs," he said. "It's not about scorelines. This will be the biggest game of their lives and they will enjoy it as well.

"I've seen stuff in the press about them moaning about the game being played at Hamilton but wherever it gets played we will go there, be professional and try to get the win."

Midfielder Tom Rogic is a doubt to face St Johnstone after going off with a knock at half-time during the midweek thrashing of Hamilton.

New signing Erik Sviatchenko will be introduced to the fans at Parkhead but is not yet ready to play and Dedryck Boyata is set to be afforded another week to recover from his hamstring issue.

Midfielders Scott Brown (knee) and Charlie Mulgrew (thigh) are not over their injuries while Ryan Christie (knee) is working on his fitness.

Meanwhile, St Johnstone defender Joe Shaughnessy is ready for the biggest challenge of his season against Griffiths.

Perth manager Tommy Wright has given the former Aberdeen player a run in central defence recently and he has looked the part.

But Shaughnessy admits trying to keep Griffiths under control will pose a serious test for the Perth backline.

Shaughnessy said: "Everyone knows what a good player Leigh is. Look at the number of goals he has scored.

"He recently celebrated his 50th for the club and got a hat-trick in the 8-1 win over Hamilton.

"But every time you play Celtic you expect a test and as a defender I enjoy testing myself against the best."

Wright is ready to restore Rangers transfer target Michael O'Halloran after leaving him out of last weekend's draw with Hamilton as speculation spiralled.

Shaughnessy said: "I don't know how it has affected Michael but he has been great in training. Of course you would want him in the team.

"You see how important he is to us. And he is a great out-ball to have when you are under a bit of pressure."

Defender Darnell Fisher, on loan from Celtic, misses out against his parent club while Chris Millar (hamstring) remains sidelined.


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