Brendan Rodgers urges Scott Brown to look out for No 1

Brendan Rodgers has urged Celtic captain Scott Brown to look after number one as he considers whether to continue to make himself available for Scotland selection.

Scott Brown has yet to make his decision on whether to continue playing for Scotland. Picture: SNS

Brown, who is set to make his 400th career appearance for Celtic when they face St Johnstone in a Premiership fixture tomorrow night, retired from international football at the start of this season in order to focus on his club and family commitments.

However, the 31-year-old midfielder agreed to return to Scotland manager Gordon Strachan’s squad for the World Cup qualifier against England at Wembley in November.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Brown has since been agonising over whether that was a one-off reprise of his Scotland career or whether he will commit himself further to his country’s cause in a World Cup campaign which continues with a must-win fixture against Slovenia at Hampden on 26 March. He has stated he will reach a conclusion after discussions with both Rodgers and Strachan.

From Rodgers’ perspective, the main concern is Brown’s potential involvement in Scotland’s game against England at Hampden on 10 June, shortly before Celtic return to pre-season training ahead of their Champions League qualifiers in early July.

“I think we all understood the reasons why Scott came back to play in the England game at Wembley,” said Rodgers. “Going forward, he’s got some big decisions to make.

“I think he’s clear in his own mind how he sees it evolving but my worry is for Celtic and I want to make sure he’s the best he can possibly be for Celtic.

“We’ve talked about it. I think he’s pretty clear on where I see him at, and I’ve had experiences of these types of situations, I remember it with Steven Gerrard at Liverpool and England. It has to be right for Scott.

“So he knows where he needs to be at, in order to play the game at the level he wants to be at. He’s in a different stage of his life now. He knows that. Of course I can give him my aspect on it and my feelings on it. He will speak to Gordon I’m sure. He only wants what’s best for Scotland but he also has to have a look out for himself. He’s at that stage now where he has to look after himself. I’m sure he’ll make the right decision in time.”

If Brown does extend his international career, Celtic could have as many as six players involved in Scotland’s June showdown against England with Craig Gordon, Kieran Tierney, Stuart Armstrong, James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths also contenders for the squad.

“For players, it’s not great,” added Rodgers. “If you are playing in the Scottish Cup final at the end of May and then the internationals, you only have that short period of time off.

“If players don’t make the cup final, they will finish a bit before that but then have to kick on again for the internationals. So it’s not a good date at all.”

Brown has been revitalised under Rodgers this season, having experienced a noticeable loss of optimum form and fitness in the months prior to the former Liverpool and Swansea manager’s arrival at the Scottish champions.

Rodgers has consistently praised the contribution of his captain and repeated his admiration ahead of Brown’s landmark 400th first team outing tomorrow.

“In the modern era to accumulate that number of games at a club where the expectancy is huge is a terrific achievement,” said Rodgers.

“I’m really glad he is getting the appreciation for what he gives the team. He is now getting appreciated for his footballing qualities and his professionalism. To do that at a club like Celtic where there are challenges every single day is testament to his level of energy and desire as well as his quality on the field.

“He has been outstanding domestically and in the European games this season he was first class, if you saw his stats and numbers in relation to his passing qualities. There were enough people who said that wasn’t his strength, that he could just run about and kick people.

“But I think he has shown he can channel it in the right way. He has shown to me a high level of technical and tactical ability to play the game and it is improving all the time.

“It is massive credit to him because he has wanted to change and play the game in a different way and also play his life in a different way.

“At the end of it he has performed to an excellent level. He is a great, great fella and it is a pleasure working with him. It doesn’t matter if he is playing at the Nou Camp or playing against Albion Rovers as we did on Sunday. He is up for every game.”