Gordon Strachan has insisted that Scotland captain Scott Brown would flourish at a top-four side in the English Premier League
Former England player Paul Scholes had queried whether the Celtic midfielder would have enjoyed the same success down south, prompting the Scotland manager to hit back.
And Brown has the perfect opportunity to prove Scholes and other doubters wrong when the Auld Enemies clash in Saturday’s World Cup qualifier at Hampden.
Brown will be key to Scotland’s gameplan as he seeks to round off a season as a treble-winning captain of Celtic with a famous win over England.
Now a TV pundit, Scholes, said at the weekend that he doubted Brown would have had the same influence in England.
Strachan responded: “I understand, everybody has an opinion. In football – on Sky and BT – everybody has got an opinion. But if I was still the manager of any of the teams I had that did reasonably well in the Premier League, I’d take him. Absolutely, absolutely.
“Okay, the game might have changed since I was at Southampton. We were fourth in the league at one point and I’d still have had him in the team. I have no problem with people having an opinion on players but I watched him again in training today and he’s back running to how he did when I first signed him for Celtic.
“That’s where he is, and when you’re going into big games like this one there’s nothing better than having people like him around you,” added the Scotland manager.
“The real test of a player, also, isn’t anybody’s opinion who doesn’t watch him every week. Your big test as a player is what your team-mates think of you.
“When you finish your career that’s what matters. The rest don’t matter, your team-mates are the only ones who are the test of who you are, what you are and what you brought to a team.”
Strachan is confident Scholes’ remarks will barely have registered with Brown.
“Honestly, I don’t think the man sleeps but, if he did, he wouldn’t have lost any of it,” added Strachan.
“I don’t think it’ll have bothered him one little bit. It’s like the Player of Year awards [Brown wasn’t nominated] and people were asking if he would have been upset. I think he would have been delighted.
“It meant he didn’t need to sit in front of the media and talk, or get dressed up for a ball.”