At a time when Scott Brown will be grateful of a break, and his club manager is happy to wrap him in cotton wool, Scotland manager Gordon Strachan will be bemoaning the fact he cannot select a guy who is back at the peak of his game.
The decision to retire from international football was designed to help his club performances and on early evidence the plan is paying off. Dominant against Manchester City, he conducted the play against Dundee yesterday as well, weighing in with the winning goal to ensure they left the City of Discovery with fair reward.
It is the kind of performance that has prompted his club manager to hail him as the complete midfielder and assert that he can live with the best in the world.
Saying it was a bonus for him that his main man will be able to rest up throughout the international break, Brendan Rodgers said: “I look at him on Wednesday night and this is a guy who’s playing against some of the top midfielders in the world, and against one of the top teams in Europe, and he dominated the midfield.
“Not only that, but against a team that really press the game well, his ability to pass the ball was there as well. It’s something we’ve talked about, looking after the ball. Whether you’re Scottish, British, whatever, you can play football, you’re not just a runner and Scott is a wonderful demonstration of that.”
“I hope I can improve under him,” said the 31-year-old, who, despite his manager saying he could develop into a centre-half eventually, jokingly described himself as a goalscoring midfielder on the back of his second goal of the season. “I’m learning a lot in terms of tactical discipline. We are all learning under him. We are trying to play the same way as teams like Man City. Their full-backs come in the middle of the park and the two midfielders move out. It’s about movement and the gaffer is improving everyone.
“We all have belief and that wasn’t there last season. We had a few 0-0s at Dens and even at Celtic Park, our play was slow. But we press high now, it’s intense from start to finish and we will get fitter. But the rest is also good now.
“I enjoyed my time with Scotland, I loved every single moment, especially working with Gordon. But for my body and my legs, I decided to call time on it and that seems to be working for me.”