Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths has been forced to issue a statement following speculation regarding his leave of absence from the game.

The Hoops player was granted leave of all football responsibilities last month after Brendan Rodgers revealed that he needed time to address ongoing 'personal issues'.

Griffiths has now said he will 'not be silenced' following reports that the issues are linked to gambling and drug abuse.

Taking to social media, he wrote: "Despite what has been written about me, rumoured or said to you from afar, I just want to settle one thing and to make it clear once and for all.

"I am off work due to my mental health state. Not gambling, drugs or any other issue that has been written about me since December.

"The stories, the tweets, the lies that come out people's mouth is laughable, but I suppose if they're talking about me, they are leaving someone else alone.

"If anyone would like to come forward with real evidence that suggests I'm off with the above mentioned either from my employers, or anyone else, let's see it.

"I'm putting this out there now because family and friends are being asked questions and they've been told to say nothing.

"But I'll not be silenced, especially by newspapers and idiots who can write tweets and make up stories and it grows arms and legs due to people's sad and pathetic lives."

His statement has been 'liked' over 18,000 times with hundreds of fans sharing well wishes.

Angela Hutton replied: "Well said Leigh. A disgrace you've had to explain anything at all. Now when you're ready, those scarves won't tie themselves."

Another said: "Keep yer heid up Leigh. Your health is more important than anything."

Griffiths was previously seen watching Hearts beat Hibs at Easter Road, but there has been no time limit put on a return to playing duties from the club.

His recent social media posts have suggested that he will return to the game in 2019.