Charlie Mulgrew expected to be fit for crucial Scotland games

Celtic's Charlie Mulgrew addresses the media. Picture: SNS
Celtic's Charlie Mulgrew addresses the media. Picture: SNS
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CELTIC manager Neil Lennon expects Charlie Mulgrew to be fit for Scotland duty, despite being forced off with a head knock during his side’s 1-0 win over Hearts yesterday.

Mulgrew and Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald, who was stretchered off wearing a neck brace, both recovered well from the early collision.

Celtic were without captain Scott Brown as Georgios Samaras struck the only goal as the home side displaced Hibernian from the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, but the midfielder will also join up with Craig Levein’s squad this morning ahead of the crucial World Cup double header against Wales and Belgium.

On Mulgrew, who played on for 20 minutes, Lennon said: “He was a bit groggy, a wee bit fuzzy. He wanted to carry on, but I think he was progressively feeling a bit more nauseous, but he has been checked out and he is fine.

“We’ll have to check if there is concussion or a bit of grogginess. There is no reason why he can’t go with Scotland and come under their medical department and let them look after him.”

Brown sat out the game after feeling the effects of his ongoing hip complaint following Celtic’s 3-2 victory over Spartak Moscow in Russia. “Scott will join up,” Lennon said. “Craig is well aware of the situation with Scott. We don’t know if he will be able to play the two games, but they will have to gauge that themselves.”

When asked if he would be unhappy if Brown did play both games, Lennon said: “I don’t want to put pressure on anybody but no, I wouldn’t because what surprised me after the Benfica game, he was fit to play in the Dundee game at the weekend. There are days and games where he recovers quicker than others. There is a little bit of inconsistency with the sort of condition that he has, but he couldn’t play today, he was too sore and he made that decision himself on Thursday and Friday. It will probably all depend, if he is selected for the first game, how he feels after that.”

Hearts manager John McGlynn allayed fears over MacDonald, who appeared to fall unconscious after punching away a cross from a crowd of bodies. McGlynn said: “At half-time he was sitting up no problem. The doctor said he took 20 minutes to come round, but he checked him again and checked his eyes and he was okay. I’m sure he’ll be observed for the rest of the night, but he is fine.”

Samaras struck the 34th-minute winner through the legs of Peter Enckelman – who was sent on in place of MacDonald – as Celtic recovered from a flat start during which they could have fallen behind when Callum Paterson missed Andrew Driver’s cut-back from 12 yards.

Kris Commons, again omitted from the Scotland squad, set up the goal and was at the heart of Celtic’s best play.

Levein will be hoping for no further call-offs from his squad when they gather at their Mar Hal base.

Steven Fletcher, recalled to the Scotland international fold after ending his two-year stand-off with Levein last week, came through Sunderland’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester City unscathed, while Darren Fletcher was rested by Sir Alex Ferguson yesterday as Manchester United won 3-0 at Newcastle.

Scotland play Wales in Cardiff on Friday then head to Belgium next Tuesday for two matches which could make or break their qualifying campaign.