LEIGH GRIFFITHS today revealed there would be “none more happy than me” if he was to stay at Hibs beyond the end of the season.
As things stand, Griffiths’ last game in a green-and-white shirt will be the William Hill Scottish Cup final against Celtic on May 26, with the on-loan 27-goal striker set to stay at parent club Wolves for a further year at the request of the Midlands outfit’s manager Dean Saunders, who is invoking a one-year extension on his deal.
However, Griffiths said that staying at Wolves, who are almost certain to be relegated to England’s League One today, is not a foregone conclusion and that he would love to stay at Easter Road.
He said: “There is [a chance I could stay at Hibs]. It’s wide open just now. I think Hibs and Wolves are speaking but as of now the Scottish Cup final is my last game. Everybody knows how much I love the club and there will be none more happy than me if I’m told I’m staying.
Meanwhile, his boss at Hibs, Pat Fenlon, admitted Griffiths can be a “pain in the backside” at times, but insisted the hard work he’s put in to curbing the sometimes controversial striker’s excesses are paying off big time.
The Irishman concedes Griffiths has attracted headlines for all the wrong reasons over the course of the past two seasons, but while he predicted there will still be “blips” along the way, he believes the 22-year-old is a reformed character, a fact reflected in the 27 goals he’s scored this season and the host of awards for which he has been nominated.
Griffiths stands to pick up both the Player and Young Player of the Year Awards from his fellow professionals in PFA Scotland at their annual bash tomorrow night, prizes which Fenlon feels he richly deserves, although the player insists his manager has played a “massive role” in his success, describing the Irishman as being a “father figure” to him.
Fenlon was more modest about the part he’d played in the youngster becoming one of the hottest properties in Scotrish football, but claimed Griffiths was “as good, if not better” than both former Hibs strikers Garry O’Connor and Derek Riordan.
Fenlon, pictured, said: “I think we just try to help Leigh, I don’t think we have done anything too special. It’s my job to try to get the best out of every player and for every player it takes different methods.
“I have to say most of it is down to him, He has knuckled down and work hard. I still think there will be blips along the way because that’s the type of character he is, but I don’t think you can take that out of him to a point. It’s important he keeps on the edge.
“He can be a pain in the **** to manage at times but I think Leigh has to know when he is getting close to that edge and I think that’s the bit he’s trying to learn. There’s no malice in Leigh but a bit of stupidity at times and I think that’s the bit we have tried to manage. Like most young players it’s maturity, some mature quickly, some do not.”
While obviously willing to allow some leeway, Fenlon insisted he was determined to ensure his players did nothing to besmirch Hibs’ good name, accepting there had been occasions in the past when individuals had let the club down. Adamant the club should always be held in the respect it deserves, he said: “I think the key to that is making sure they stay on their toes and make sure they realise that if that level of performance and behaviour does not get to where it should be on a regular basis then there’s a big chance you will be shown the door.”