Craig Levein admires 'ebullient' Scott Brown and sees no need to tame him

FORGET trying to sanitise Scott Brown's on-field personality - it's his gallus approach which makes the midfielder the player he is, according to Scotland manager Craig Levein,

While the Celtic captain has been back in the headlines following his jousts with Rangers' El-Hadji Diouf in Sunday's Old Firm match, his international boss was a very interested spectator at Ibrox for that cup game and says the edgy and committed performance was one that should be hailed rather than condemned.

With Brown one of those considered for the armband in the absence of regular Scotland captain Darren Fletcher, Levein shied away from the public scramble to condemn his player, stating he was actually an example to others and naming him in the starting line-up for this evening's Carling Nations Cup match against Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

In a tournament which the Scotland manager is keen to use to demonstrate the quality now available to him, he considers Brown one of his key men and believes recent form suggests he is getting back to his best.

"I thought he played exceptionally well on Sunday and capped it all with a great goal and that celebration. We can all laugh about that but it's football banter and they were just winding each other up. I like that in him. He has got that in him and, for a while, he didn't have it and he wasn't as ebullient as he is now.

"He is fit for the first time in a long time. He had carried an ankle injury for a long time but, being the type of boy he is, he played through the pain and he turned up at one of our recent gatherings with a broken bone in his foot and was training before he realised 'this was a bit sore'. But that's the type of guy he is, he just wants to play all the time and I think he is in the form of his life just now and he is a huge asset to have." With the combative attitude on the pitch described as a positive, Levein laughed at the idea that a certain amount of mellowing would do Brown more good.

"Some people want to change him but that's just nonsense. You will never do that, it's impossible," rejecting the idea that it would be a constructive change.

"He is a character and that's the way he plays, he's in your face and he can't keep his mouth shut at times but he is such an endearing boy when you work with him and, okay, he has other parts to his character that are a little bit, well, different but he is a great boy to work with, a great boy to have around and he is a great example.

"You talk about us having a core of players and he is one of them."

With an array of midfielders to choose from as he seeks a more positive approach in forthcoming internationals, Levein says it is reassuring to also see Brown back on the scoresheet and contributing in several different ways.

"It was great to see him scoring (against Rangers].I watched that game on Sunday and I was only interested in players available for Scotland - I see Kris Commons scoring and Scotty Brown scoring and I think that's great."