SCOTT Brown has been ruled out “indefinitely” by his manager Neil Lennon, meaning the midfielder will miss Scotland’s forthcoming World Cup qualifying double-header against Wales and Serbia as well as Celtic’s last 16 Champions League second-leg clash with Juventus next week.
Brown has been troubled by a chronic hip ailment in recent times. After being struck down by a hip abductor problem, he is waiting to learn the findings of a specialist, who will recommend either surgery or rest.
Either way, Brown is likely to be sidelined for next week’s trip to Turin, as well as the first competitive games under new Scotland manager Gordon Strachan, who named the midfielder captain for the friendly against Estonia at Pittodrie earlier this month, his first match in charge.
“I would imagine so,” said Lennon, when asked whether the player will miss the game in Italy and the pair of international fixtures at the end of next month.
“He [Brown] is out indefinitely. We will have to wait and see whether he requires surgery,” he added. “If he does then you are looking at four-to-six weeks. That would give him to time to come back and play but we haven’t had the full report back from the specialist. As regards the short-term then he won’t play.”
Eager to play a part against Juventus, Brown, 27, had delayed having surgery on his hip since the end of last year. However, the 3-0 loss in the first leg means Celtic face an almost impossible task in Turin and Lennon clearly believes Brown will be better served by beginning his rehabilitation sooner rather than later.
Indeed, the Celtic manager even agreed that the most prudent course of action might be to “shut the player down” for the season, as he briefly considered doing in October, after Brown lasted only until half-time in Scotland’s World Cup qualifyng Group A clash with Wales in Cardiff.
“Probably,” was Lennon’s reply when asked if such a precaution was the most sensible course of action, with Celtic set to face the prospect of an early return to Champions League qualifying action in the summer.
“It might be a chance to give him a complete rest but I will need to speak to Scott first.”
Lennon acknowledged that a period of complete rest could benefit several players in his squad ahead of a busy summer schedule, with Scotland’s trip to face Croatia scheduled for June. Mikael Lustig, who has bone bruising and has already been ruled out of next week’s clash with Juventus, has already been permitted to take some time off.
Celtic are currently 21 points clear at the top of the Scottish Premier league and could take another step towards retaining their title with a win at third-placed Motherwell this evening. Celtic need just four more
victories and could be left with a series of meaningless league matches towards the end of the season.
“The thing is we could be in a cup final at the end of May,”
Lennon added, with Celtic due to face St Mirren in a quarter-final Scottish Cup tie this weekend. “We have to balance it very carefully. If there is an opportunity with three or four games of the league left then we may give them a week here and there.
“Lustig is out injured at the moment so he is on a break at the moment. Given all the international matches, time off is very limited and we have to be very mindful of that.”
Celtic will face their first Champions League qualifier in mid-July. “We will be back around the 17th of June and that overlaps with internationals,” added Lennon. “Efe [Ambrose], Emilio [Izaguirre] and Victor [Wanyama] could all be away [with their national teams] and the Scots boys are also playing in June. They need some time off, as it is very important. “It might be strange having a break while the season is still ongoing but it might be the only opportunity they get.”