Brown keen to put on a show for fans at home

Empty stands will take some get­ting used to, says cap­tain

Evening Times - - FOOTBALL - GRAEME McGARRY

GIVEN that op­po­si­tion play­ers rou­tinely ref­er­ence the Celtic Park crowd in their post-match in­ter­views as a fac­tor that has fig­ured in them los­ing there, it stands to rea­son that Celtic them­selves may suf­fer more than most when that ad­van­tage is de­nied to them once the sea­son kicks off.

In­deed, even when they go on the road, the Celtic sup­port of­ten out­num­bers the home con­tin­gent, and Scott Brown isn’t about to deny that the team are go­ing to miss the in­cred­i­ble back­ing they en­joy wher­ever they go when the sea­son kicks off be­hind closed doors next month.

The Celtic cap­tain, though, has chal­lenged his team-mates to over­come that hand­i­cap, and find the mo­ti­va­tion within them­selves that nor­mally comes from the stands in order to get off to a fly­ing start in their quest for a tenth ti­tle in a row.

“It’s go­ing to be some­thing that we’re not re­ally used to,” Brown told Celtic TV. “Even some of the friendlies we play at the start of the sea­son when we go away some­where, there are al­ways fans that fol­low us on the pre-sea­son tour­na­ments.

“It’s go­ing to be dif­fi­cult for ev­ery­body, but the main thing for us is that we just keep do­ing what we do, whether that’s at Celtic Park or any­where else. We press up the park, we use our en­ergy, and we feel that when we turn up, we’re fit­ter than most teams. That shows and we can keep go­ing for 90 min­utes.

“[Get­ting back to train­ing] has been huge for every­one. We all wanted to play games and fin­ish the sea­son off, but be­cause of the virus we had to make sure every­one was safe, and we did what was best. Now though we are get­ting back into it, and look­ing at the 11 v 11s we are play­ing, ev­ery­body wants to win. That’s why peo­ple come to Celtic, you want to win the tro­phies, you want to win ev­ery sin­gle match.

“That’s what the fans ex­pect from you as well, es­pe­cially at Celtic Park when it’s nil-nil 15 or 20 min­utes into the game. They ex­pect us to be two or three noth­ing up, so they are the ones that drive us. Now, we’ve got to make sure we drive our­selves and we work as hard as we pos­si­bly can un­til we can get the fans back into the sta­dium.

“We’ve been sit­ting down and speak­ing about that in the last week, and all the lads know what to ex­pect.”

On the sub­ject of phys­i­cal fit­ness, Brown says the Celtic play­ers were in­spired to keep up their pun­ish­ing lock­down rou­tine sim­ply by the de­sire to best each other when it came to their times over 5k, and even at this ad­vanced stage of his ca­reer, he bris­tles slightly when he men­tions the fact he didn’t fin­ish at the top of the pile.

With that work in the bank though, he has savoured get­ting the foot­ball sharp­ness back into his legs dur­ing

Celtic’s pre-sea­son trip to Lough­bor­ough this week, legs he thought might have been creak­ing a lit­tle more at this point given his vet­eran sta­tus.

“I was a bit ner­vous turn­ing up at 35!” he joked. “But we’re all on the Strava app and we all keep up to date with one an­other, so you see what the lads are do­ing, how far they’ve been run­ning, and you see their times as well.

“We had a com­pe­ti­tion ev­ery Fri­day. We had ses­sions on a Mon­day, Tues­day and a Thurs­day, and then you had a 5k on a Fri­day, and it was a com­pe­ti­tion to see who got the best time.”

Scott Brown says he and his team-mates have dis­cussed the prospect of games be­hind closed doors

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