Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has stressed Scott Brown will have no difficulty reclaiming his first-team place following injury, regardless of the Scottish champions’ impressive form in his absence.
The 33-year-old Celtic captain has missed their last six games because of a hamstring problem but has returned to full training this week.
Tomorrow’s Premiership fixture at Hamilton Accies’ artificial playing surface will probably be too soon for Brown to return to action.
But Rodgers has scoffed at suggestions last season’s Player of the Year will struggle to dislodge any of the current midfield incumbents in his side. “No, as much as some people seem to want to say that,” said Rodgers. “Yes, we are functioning well without Scott, but that’s because we have always functioned as a collective. The team doesn’t rely on one player.
“Browny is a big part of that, no matter how much people want to write him off and wither him away. He is absolutely a very important player for us, part of the collective that will win us things, and he will play. He might have to come out of the team at times, like anyone else, but our ethos is about the team.”
Rodgers, meanwhile, has repeated his call for Brown to be allowed all the time he needs to weigh up his future beyond the end of this season when his current contract at Celtic expires.
Following interest from Australian club Western Melbourne, the former Scotland captain has now been linked with MLS duo Sporting Kansas City and Minnesota United for a lucrative and life-changing move.
“I’ve said it before, he just deserves the time [to consider his future],” said Rodgers. “He has a great relationship with the club, we want him to stay and he is just concentrating on trying to get himself fully fit.
“When you speak to players, making it clear you want them to stay, you also have to be honest with them if they ask for your advice about what it would be like somewhere else. Obviously there is a really big financial incentive as well and it’s very hard to deny players the opportunity to do that.
“It was the same with Craig Gordon a couple of years ago – there was interest from Chelsea and I could tell him a bit about that. “It was a great offer for him financially but he had to make the decision. You can never make it for them.”