Celtic skipper Scott Brown has the same effect on domestic opponents as former England captain Steven Gerrard, according to Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers.
Ahead of the Scottish champions’ trip to Hearts in the Ladbrokes Premiership on Sunday, Jambos’ 16-year-old midfielder Harry Cochrane looked forward to coming up against Brown, twice his age, saying: “I’ve been watching him since I was a young boy so that would be something special.”
Rodgers worked with Gerrard at Liverpool and he made favourable comparisons with the former Kop midfielder and Brown, whom he claimed had bossed fellow Scotland international John McGinn in last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Hibernian at Easter Road.
“Browny always invites that because of the type of player he is,” said the Northern Irishman, who revealed Australia midfielder Tom Rogic would be out until the new year with a knee problem.
“I seen it over many years, seen it working with Steven Gerrard. Every player that came up against Steven would raise their game 10 to 15 per cent because they are up against a top player and Browny has the same up here.
“Every week, every player who comes up against him knows how good he is so they always see it as a real test.
“Whether is it the young guy at Hearts or some of the other players, Browny faces that every week.
“That’s why it’s remarkable how well Scott Brown has done here because of the challenge he has had for the last 10-plus years of everyone that he is up against.
“So yes, good players will always invite that and it is great that the young guy has that ambition to want to do well.”
Cochrane may not be the only 16-year-old in the Hearts midfield on Sunday, as the home side look to end Celtic’s domestic unbeaten record of 69 games.
Former Dundee United, Leicester and Scotland boss Craig Levein gave youngster Anthony McDonald his debut in the 2-0 win against Dundee on Tuesday night.
Rodgers believes Levein, who had been director of football at Tynecastle when he replaced Ian Cathro as boss in August, should be praised for promoting from within his youth squad.
He said: “When they were looking for a manager Hearts were very sensible in putting in someone like Craig with his experience.
“He done terrific as a club manager here, worked in England and was the international manager and, of course, was overseeing the football side there.
“When they needed someone to step in, among everyone that was in for the job, there was probably no one better suited to taking the job.
“So it was a really sensible decision to put him in place and having that knowledge of the youth system, I am sure that Hearts will reap the rewards for that.
“I was very impressed with the young boy Harry Cochrane in a pre-season game against Linfield and each time I have seen him he looks to have the right personality.
“So it has to be applauded. Hearts are a big club and having that faith in the young players is always important.”