Kevin Thomson is desperate for Scott Brown to keep playing for Scotland and believes Gordon Strachan can persuade the Celtic captain to prolong his international career.
Former Hibs and Rangers midfielder Thomson, an ex-team-mate of Brown, insists his close friend is back at the top of his game and playing as well as anyone in Scotland.
Brown is currently agonising over what to do in Dubai, where Celtic are based during the Premiership’s winter break. Brown has described the dilemma as the “biggest decision of his career” and he intends to speak to both national boss Strachan and Brendan Rodgers, the Celtic manager, before making up his mind.
The midfielder retired from internationals in August but was tempted to return for November’s crucial World Cup qualifying clash with England, where he made his 51st appearance in a disappointing 3-0 defeat at Wembley.
Scotland’s next competitive game is the equally vital home clash with Slovenia at Hampden in March. But Brown sounds most concerned about the scheduling of the return match with England, on 10 June. Celtic are due back at training for the 2017-18 season just ten days later.
With Brown, pictured, sounding cooler on the idea of continuing with Scotland Thomson hopes Strachan can persuade the 31 year-old to play on.
“In my opinion, if there is anyone was going to sway his mind it would be Gordon,” said Thomson yesterday. “That will be a conversation that Gordon and him are going to have. He thinks Gordon is as good as it gets, really. So, if there is one person who is going to get him to sway his mind and pull that jersey on it would definitely be him.”
Thomson has been in text contact with Brown as he continues his deliberations in the Middle East.
“It’s been a tough one for him sitting in Dubai for the last couple of weeks hasn’t it?” joked Thomson. “Every time I get a text from him he’s talking about Pina coladas!”
But Thomson understands the serious nature of Brown’s quandary and the risk he is taking by agreeing to put even more physical demands on his body. Brown missed parts of last season due to injury but has been an inspiring figure for Celtic this season under Rodgers in an unbeaten run of 24 domestic matches.
“Of course it’s a difficult decision for him because he’s probably playing as well as he’s played for the last three or four years,” said Thomson.
“I think he’s got that competitive edge back now that Rangers are in the league and knowing that they have to be at the top of their game and they can’t have any slacking.
“They’re like a train on fire, they’re running away with it. But, for Scott personally, I think he’s as good as anyone (in the country). I would love to see him pulling on the dark blue jersey and helping the country. But from a personal point of view it’s down to him and what he thinks is best for himself and his family.
“As a fan I would love to see him play because I still think he helps the team,” Thomson added.
“As a mate I would still love to see him play. But for Scott the decision has to be his and what he feels comfortable with.
“It has to be a gut decision based on what he feels can prolong his career for as long as he possibly can. Sadly, Celtic is his bread and butter. Scotland is amazing and as fans we would all love to see him play. But if Scott plays an extra campaign with Scotland and it curtails his club career then it’s probably the wrong decision.”