Craig Levein: Scott Brown got booking to avoid missing Old Firm tie

Craig Levein has hit back at Scott Brown's claims he got him booked against Kilmarnock - by hinting the Celtic skipper deliberately got cautioned so he would not miss next month's Old Firm showdown.

Craig Levein claimed Scott Brown deliberately got booked against Kilmarnock to avoid missing the Old Firm clash. Picture: SNS Group

Brown took aim at the Hearts boss over the weekend after Levein claimed players need more protection from the Hoops midfielder, after Jambos youngster Harry Cocharane was injured in a clash at Parkhead.

Speaking after picking up a yellow card at Rugby Park - which rules him out of this month’s visit of St Johnstone to Celtic Park - the Scotland captain said: “He has done his job, hasn’t he?

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“I was booked with my first foul and I think that is exactly what Craig was looking to do.”

Brown was booked during the Kilmarnock-Celtic match and claimed he was a 'marked man' after Levein's comments. Picture: SNS Group

But Levein - who has also recently found himself embroiled in a spat with Hibernian boss Neil Lennon - ratcheted up his latest war of words with his response, suggesting Brown got himself booked against Killie to ensure he would be free to face Rangers at Ibrox on March 11.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Hearts’ William Hill Scottish Cup clash with Saints on Saturday, he said: “I’m not trying to irritate anybody. I’m just pointing stuff out.

“On that front actually, Scott Brown mentioned last week that he got booked because of me bringing attention to his proclivity to foul people.

Brown was booked during the Kilmarnock-Celtic match and claimed he was a 'marked man' after Levein's comments. Picture: SNS Group

“I disagree with that completely. If Scott didn’t get booked against Kilmarnock last week and got booked against St Johnstone (on February 18) then he would have missed the Rangers game.

“I’ll leave that to you to deduce.

“I’m just pointing out things that are obvious. I’m just pointing out as a retort to his statement last week that it was me who got him booked (against Killie).

“I think you’ll find that his intentions were always to get himself booked in that game so he didn’t miss the Rangers game.

“That sort of things happens all the time. Anybody who is sensible would look at the situation if there is a particular game they want to play in and know they need to get booked to miss a game prior to that. I did it myself when I was playing, so it happens.

“I don’t know Scott’s intentions but I’m just pointing out the fact. That’s all.”