Celtic captain Scott Brown has “earned the right” to decide whether he should make himself available for Scotland’s World Cup qualifier against England on 10 June, according to his team-mate Craig Gordon.
Brown, who led Scotland to the 1-0 win over Slovenia at Hampden on Sunday which revived their hopes of reaching the 2018 finals, has yet to commit himself to the summer showdown against the Group F leaders, which would curtail his rest and recovery time ahead of Celtic’s Champions League qualifying campaign in early July.
The 31-year-old has attracted criticism for flip-flopping over his international career, having previously reversed his decision to retire from Scotland duty last year. But Gordon insists that is unfair and has backed Brown to make the right choice for both himself and Scotland.
“Scott will know himself if he can do the team justice or not,” said the Celtic and Scotland goalkeeper. “If he feels that he can’t go out there and do as well as he wants to do then that is his decision.
“I think we should respect that because he has earned that right with the amount of football he has played over his career and the way he has gone about his business.
“He has played over 400 games now for Celtic and has a lot of miles on the clock. We want him to play in every game he possibly can. He is the same. He just wants to keep playing. He goes through injuries and knocks, no-one ever knows he is injured. He never makes a fuss, he just gets on with it and plays through almost any injury he possibly can. He is always out there leading the team.
“Whether he played against England will be a decision for closer to the time. He still has nine or ten games to go with Celtic this season, to see how his body is after that. He should take time, take the sting out of the situation, and re-evaluate things closer to the end of the season when he knows how his body is and whether it would affect him or not. Only he can really answer that. Only he knows how he feels and how he will be going forward.”
Asked if it would be difficult for Brown to return to the Scotland fold again if he opted out of the England fixture, Gordon replied: “It depends how it goes in pre-season. A lot of people had a go at him last season about not being up to his usual standard. People were wondering if he could get back to it.
“But he took the break over the summer, came back and had a great pre-season. He showed everyone he was right back up at the top of his game. If that’s what he needs to be able to play at that level, and to be able to play for Scotland in the next game, then in the long run that might be the best thing.
“He will know, he will understand his own position. I’m sure the two managers, at Scotland and Celtic, will help him out with that as well.”
Gordon, who has reclaimed the Scotland number one jersey, has no doubts about his own availability for the 10 June date.
“It is late, it is quite a bit after the season ends,” added Gordon. “For the guys in the Championship down south, especially, if they’re not in the play-offs it’s a big gap between games.
“For me, I’m not too bothered. I’m happy to be playing in any game I possibly can. I want to play as much as possible so it’s a sacrifice I’m happy to make. It might mean ten days or two weeks of a break between that game and the start of pre-season. But if that’s what it has to be then I’m willing to do that.”