Scott Brown will miss at least one World Cup match as Steven Naismith picks up ban
CELTIC captain Scott Brown is almost certain to be ruled out of at least one of Scotland’s crucial World Cup qualifying matches against Wales and Belgium after suffering another setback in his battle with an ongoing hip problem, while Steven Naismith was last night banned by Fifa for two matches for an elbow on Serbia’s Srdjan Mijailovic
Confirming the Everton striker’s ban, a Scottish Football Association statement read: “Fifa have confirmed to the Scottish FA that their Disciplinary Committee have imposed an immediate two-match suspension on Steven Naismith following an incident that took place during last month’s Fifa World Cup Brazil 2014 Qualifier against Serbia at Hampden Park.”
Brown, meanwhile, will miss his club’s SPL fixture at home to Hearts tomorrow with Celtic manager Neil Lennon revealing that the 27-year-old is “in a lot of pain” following his exertions in Tuesday night’s Champions League win over Spartak Moscow in Russia on an artificial playing surface.
The midfielder missed Scotland’s opening Group A fixtures at home to Serbia and Macedonia last month because of his degenerative injury, his presence sorely missed as Craig Levein’s team managed only to draw both games at Hampden. He is back in Levein’s plans for the assignments against Wales in Cardiff next Friday and Belgium in Brussels the following Tuesday and Lennon expects him to report for international duty when the Scotland squad gather tomorrow night.
But Lennon has warned that Brown’s condition means Levein is likely to face a choice of fielding him in just one of the matches. “He should be okay to join up with Scotland,” said Lennon, “but he may only be able to play in one of the two games. I’ve spoken to Craig about it already and it will be up to both Craig and Scott to gauge how they go about his training regime and the games. Craig is well aware of the situation. Scott won’t play for us against Hearts on Sunday. He’s an incredible boy, really, to have played for us in Moscow. In training the night before the game, he took three strides when was going to walk off because of the discomfort he felt.
“But I told him to stay out there, because there were a lot of Russian media around and we didn’t want to give anything away. But he was in agony. He took paracetamols and was given injections by the medical team, then he goes and plays like he did. It was a remarkable performance, but he is in a lot of pain now.”
While Brown’s level of participation with Scotland next week is in doubt, Lennon added his voice to those expressing their surprise at Celtic winger Kris Commons’ continued omission from Levein’s squad. “He’s playing very well and started the season brilliantly,” said Lennon. “He’s been a big player for me and the club and I’m disappointed for him that he’s not in the Scotland squad. There was a real desperation about him the other night to play for us in Moscow. It was a difficult team to pick, but you could see the hunger in Kris and how much it meant to him.
“His fitness levels are fantastic now. He’s worked on that aspect of his game, but we’ve always known he is a good player. But Craig’s the Scotland manager. He’s made that decision and explained his decision publicly. Kris accepts that and will just keep playing away.”
There was good news yesterday for two other Celtic players who are in the Scotland squad as Charlie Mulgrew and James Forrest both signed new contracts with the Scottish champions. Versatile defender-cum-midfielder Mulgrew’s deal runs until summer 2016, while highly regarded winger Forrest has extended his agreement until December 2016. Welsh full-back Adam Matthews, who is likely to line up against Scotland next Friday, has also signed a new contract with Celtic which runs to summer 2016.
Mulgrew, who swept the board last season when the Scottish Player of the Year awards were dished out, is relishing the success of his second spell at Celtic after returning to the club as Lennon’s first signing in July 2010.
“It’s good to get it signed and focus only on the football,” said the 26-year-old of his new contract. “Last year was a good one for me. I’ve been happy to be back. Things have been going well for me so hopefully that can continue.”
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Friday 24 May 2013
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