Celtic captain Scott Brown has branded his Aberdeen counterpart Graeme Shinnie a player of limited ability and has welcomed the prospect of the feud between the pair continuing next season.
Shinnie collected his 17th booking of the season– the most by any player in Scotland – for a late and crude challenge on Brown during Aberdeen’s 1-0 win at Celtic Park on Sunday.
The foul left Brown in obvious discomfort, sparking initial fears it could rule him out of Celtic’s bid to win an historic “double treble” when they face Motherwell at Hampden in the William Hill Scottish Cup final on Saturday. But Brown, who confronted Shinnie at full-time last weekend, suffered no lasting damage to his ankle and is ready to lead his team out at the National Stadium.
Shinnie defended his actions afterwards, suggesting that Brown’s own combative qualities meant that “what goes around, comes around”. That prompted a withering response from Brown who offered a damning critique of Shinnie’s talent and made it clear he will relish resuming hostilities with him.
“That’s a very fair point, I agree with that,” said Brown of Shinnie’s comment. “Let’s see if he’s saying that next season.
“My ankle’s fine. It takes more than that to keep me down. It was a Graeme Shinnie tackle. It sums him up really.
“He was saying that he got close to the ball. But I watched it back and it is kind of a little boy’s tackle – waiting until I was past him. My pace at my age has obviously done him in his prime and I got past him.
“I’m not the one with 17 bookings this season. We had a nice wee chat at the end of the game. I’ve matured.
“Graeme runs about, he tackles, stuff like that. He’s not got great quality, but he does the best he possibly can. It’s the only thing he can probably do to try to stop us – to try to make a bad tackle. To be fair on him, it was a good bad tackle.
“As soon as I got up, I knew I was going to be alright. I felt it quite high up at the time. I was thinking ‘thank goodness I still wear those grandad shinnies that come all the way around and protect everything!’ It wasn’t too bad. I have had worse, but it wasn’t great, especially at the time of year.
“My ankle locks now and then. It has got no ligaments left in it. It kind of locked. I just needed to open it up again.”
Brown, already named Player of the Year by both the Scottish Football Writers’ Association and PFA Scotland, collected another individual award yesterday when he was named Ladbrokes Premiership Player of the Season.
Brendan Rodgers, beaten by Kilmarnock’s Steve Clarke and Jack Ross of St Mirren respectively to the SFWA and PFA Scotland Manager of the Year prizes this year, was named Ladbrokes Premiership Manager of the Season.
The Celtic boss, meanwhile, believes even Scotland manager Alex McLeish has questioned the wisdom of the national team’s end-of-season trip to play Peru and Mexico.
McLeish has named only two current Celtic first-team players – Jack Hendry and Stuart Armstrong – in his 24-man squad for the challenge matches in Lima and Mexico City on 29 May and 2 June, Rodgers having previously expressed his concern over the scheduling of the journey to South and Central America.
Two other Celtic players, Ryan Christie and Lewis Morgan – who have been on loan at Aberdeen and St Mirren respectively – are included. But five of the champions’ squad who are likely to be mainstays of McLeish’s bid to lead Scotland to the Euro 2020 finals will not travel – Craig Gordon, Kieran Tierney, pictured left, Callum McGregor, James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths.
Rodgers feels “common sense” has prevailed as he looks to give his squad as much rest and recovery as possible ahead of their return to training on 18 June in preparation for the start of their Champions League qualifying campaign in early July.
“I think everyone sees that – and I think Alex himself does,” said Rodgers. “I’m sure everyone involved thinks there must have been a better plan. I want to help but I also have to look about the welfare of our players.
“I had to take Kieran Tierney off against Aberdeen at the weekend because he was absolutely shattered. I asked him to give me ten minutes of the second half and then I’d take him off. Players aren’t robots – they’re young guys who give everything in every game they play in. But it’s common sense to leave the ones who are not going to Peru and Mexico out because, otherwise, Scotland would suffer later on. What we’ve done is try to look at the ones who are the most-capped players and ones who’ve made the most appearances this season – the likes of Kieran and James Forrest and Callum McGregor.
“I assume they’ll be important men for Scotland going forward. As far as Craig Gordon is concerned, in terms of his recent injury history, it’s only fair that he’s protected. Leigh Griffiths wants to go but he can’t go, but it makes sense for the other lads to go because they haven’t played as much football.”
Griffiths, who has been plagued by calf and hamstring problems this season, is scheduled to undergo minor surgery next week in a bid to return to optimum condition.
“It’s been unfortunate for Leigh this year with injury, illness and bits and pieces,” said Rodgers. “It’s probably been frustrating but hopefully that will get tidied up and he’ll be back, fit and raring to go for pre-season.”