Leigh Griffiths has apologised to Kyle Lafferty after facing an online backlash for liking a picture of the distraught Northern Ireland striker.

Former Rangers and Hearts frontman Lafferty opted to turn out for his country just days after the death of his sister Sonia but could not help Ian Baraclough's men clinch a spot at next summer’s European Championships following an extra-time defeat to play-off rivals Slovakia.

The devastated 33-year-old – who carried his elder sibling’s coffin at her funeral last week – was pictured looking crestfallen at the final whistle as Michal Duris’ goal sent the visitors through at Windsor Park.

Celtic and Scotland striker Griffiths has drawn heavy criticism after liking the anguished image of his one-time Old Firm sparring partner on Twitter.

Now the frontman, who has subsequently deleted his Twitter account, insists he did not mean to offend the Lafferty family.

Griffiths, who scored one of the penalties in the shootout triumph over Serbia which saw Scotland clinch their place at the Euros, posted on Instagram: "Not that I should have to, but after what I’m seeing on social media I feel I need to.

"After last night’s win, I want to state that I was NOT slagging Kyle Lafferty for losing a family member, that is the lowest of the low and not the type of person I am.

"The picture was in a Northern Ireland strip and the fact they DIDN’T qualify and we did, which has been a huge achievement for the entire nation!

"Everyone gets carried away and people think I liked it because his sister died, absolutely not.

"We won, they didn’t, we’ve been mocked for years about failure, but we did it.

"I want to APOLOGISE unreservedly for any MISUNDERSTANDING there has been towards Kyle and his family. Don’t deserve what I’ve been sent, but I’ve had enough and something needed to be said on the matter!"