Scott Brown is nearing his return to action for Celtic – but do they really need him right now?
The Hoops captain hasn’t played for Brendan Rodgers since limping off against Hibs in October.
He had an injury before returning to that game and has needed more time off since, missing a number of important games, including the Europa League victory over RB Leipzig and the 5-0 demolition of Hearts.
Celtic have been in brilliant form in his absence too, winning five of their last six games and drawing the other.
And that’s coincided with the emergence of Ryan Christie in the team as well as Callum McGregor as a sitting midfielder.
So it begs the question – do Celtic need Brown? We think they do.
But there are enough reasons for them not to rush the midfielder back to action before he’s fully ready – and here’s why:
1 – Callum McGregor
How good does McGregor look as a sitting midfielder? He’s been outstanding playing in a deeper role for both club and country, helping dictate the play from deep with his quality on the ball. Given how good he’s been, you have to wonder if his long term future is in that position.
2 – His Injury
Brown suffered a hamstring injury and those are never easy to recover from. As with any muscle injury, there has to be a considerable amount of caution going forward and we think Celtic would benefit from giving him more time to get back to full fitness.
3 – The Upcoming Games
Celtic travel to Rosenborg for a must-win Europa League match on Thursday, but do they really need Brown in a game you’d expect they’ll dominate the ball in? A big part of what makes McGregor so good is his quality on the ball – particularly moving forward, and that’s a big difference to what Brown offers. The Betfred Cup Final on Sunday against Aberdeen should need a similar type of player in midfield.
4 – Ryan Christie
As good as McGregor has been, Christie might have been better in recent games – and you wonder if he would have got his chance had Brown been fit recently? Significantly, though, the playmaker has been in the team and justifying his inclusion so we’d be amazed if Rodgers immediately reinstates Brown at the expense of someone like Christie.
5 – December
Celtic have some huge games in December, most notably their final Europa League match against Red Bull Salzburg as well as trips away to Aberdeen and Rangers. Those are the kind of games a fully fit Brown could be hugely important in.
Would you put Brown straight back in the team?