Brown makes international U-turn ahead of Wembley
Celtic captain just can’t get enough as he reverses decision to retire
SCOTT BROWN’S dramatic U-turn to come out of international retirement after just two months has been described as a “no-brainer” by Mark McGhee, as the Scotland assistant manager insisted his return is just the boost the squad needs ahead of their World Cup qualifier with England.
It emerged yesterday that Gordon Strachan, the national team manager, and the Celtic captain had spoken about the 31-year-old returning to the fold with him now expected to be unveiled next week for the game at Wembley on November 11.
Scotland have played three matches without Brown in Group F, registering a win in Malta to soften the blow of scraping a draw at home to Lithuania before being turned over in a 3-0 defeat away to Slovakia.
It is understood that it was the player himself who initiated talks of being available for selection going forward, a decision that was made perhaps in the knowledge that his resurgence at club form under Brendan Rodgers has raised his game and fitness to a level where he feels able once more to cope with juggling both commitments.
“I think it is [a no-brainer]. There are no negatives to it,” said McGhee of the man with 50 caps to his name. “I was asked about him saying no then wanting to come back. The lad is entitled to his life and his own feelings and the pressures someone like him has.
“I think it is significant, Brendan’s arrivals, Broonie seeing it and thinking, ‘this could be really exciting at Celtic’ and want to be part of that and want to give himself as good a chance as he could to be part of that. I think now what he has realised is, ‘I can do this. I can be part of it. I can be part of something exciting at Celtic Park and do this.’ If that’s the case fine, I welcome him back with open arms.”
The Motherwell manager and Scotland No 2 was open about what this would also do for the mood of the camp going into a pivotal game for the national side against Gareth Southgate’s England. Scotland’s poor form in the last international break left many dreading the trip to London in two weeks’ time, but McGhee is content that Brown’s return could be the shot in the arm the nation needs.
“I think it does. Certainly, I feel we are stronger with him,” he said. “And therefore more positive about going to Wembley.
“Him back in the camp, with his voice, is a character and he is an influence from day one when we meet up. That can only be good. Scott has played against most of the England midfield many times. Either with Scotland or in European games. They will know him and I’m sure they would prefer him not to play.
“But it’s how he affects other people around him as well. He makes other people better players.
“The day he announced it I almost thought of going and trying to talk him out of it himself. I didn’t really think that was my role. But there are no negatives. The other players will be delighted. He is popular within the camp.”
McGhee was joined in praising the development by Neil Lennon, the Hibs manager who managed Brown during his time at Celtic.
He added: “That is a huge boost for Scotland. I would think that having Broonie back in the Scotland squad and playing the way he is would be huge fillip for the squad, for the fans and for Gordon as well.
“He probably looked at last season when he was picking up injuries and playing with injuries, it was taking its toll on him but he looks really fresh this season and is playing very, very well - far more like the Scott we know.
“He played brilliantly for me for a number of seasons and it looks like he’s back to playing that way again. I think the majority of the players will know him and will probably welcome him back with open arms because he’s playing with a presence and a drive and I think that’s probably been missing a little bit from the Scotland team.”
CAN’T STAY AWAY: Scott Brown has reversed international retirement decision