We must not be ‘bul­lied’ by would-be ti­tle ri­vals, says Brown

Park­head cap­tain re­spect­ful of threat posed but is hop­ing to lay down marker


SCOTT BROWN has warned that Celtic can’t al­low Aberdeen to bully them if they want to win at Pit­to­drie this af­ter­noon and move 10 points clear of their clos­est ri­vals in the Lad­brokes Premiership.

Brown, who was rested for the league meet­ing with Ross County in Ding­wall on Wed­nes­day night, is set to re­turn to Bren­dan Rodgers’s side at Pit­to­drie to­day.

The Park­head club’s cap­tain knows his team must per­form at their best in the north east if they want to main­tain their un­beaten do­mes­tic record in the 2016/17 cam­paign and ex­tend their lead.

Derek McInnes’s men beat them twice in the league at their own sta­dium last sea­son as they launched an­other strong, but ul­ti­mately ill-fated, chal­lenge for the Scot­tish ti­tle.

Brown, who yes­ter­day an­nounced he had re­versed his de­ci­sion to re­tire from in­ter­na­tional foot­ball, ad­mit­ted he ex­pects Aberdeen to push them all the way this sea­son and be­lieves Celtic, who have a game in hand against Partick This­tle, must match their phys­i­cal­ity in or­der to tri­umph.

“It would be huge for us if we can win,” he said. “But you can’t go in there think­ing you can just go to Aberdeen which is a hard place and take the three points.

“We’ve strug­gled up there in the past so here’s hop­ing it’s a pos­i­tive re­sult for us.

“They’ve done re­ally well up there against us for the last cou­ple of sea­sons, but we have a new man­ager with new be­lief and a new phi­los­o­phy with the way we are play­ing, and we need to make sure we go out there and step up.”

Aberdeen slipped three points fur­ther be­hind Celtic this week af­ter los­ing 1-0 to Hamil­ton away at New Dou­glas Park on Tues­day evening and Brown be­lieves they will have a point to prove this af­ter­noon.

Asked if the meet­ing with Aberdeen would be their hard­est do­mes­tic fix­ture of the sea­son so far, Brown said: “Def­i­nitely. They pushed us the last cou­ple of sea­sons and they’ll push us again this sea­son.”

Rodgers made no fewer than eight changes to his team for the Premiership match against County in mid­week, but Celtic still ran out re­sound­ing 4-0 win­ners.

Brown, who be­came a fa­ther for the third time this week when his wife gave birth to their third son, be­lieves the com­pe­ti­tion for places that ex­ists at Park­head will en­sure they con­tinue their im­pres­sive start to the sea­son.

“The gaffer wants us on our toes and doesn’t want the stan­dard to drop,” he said.

“If some­body does drop out of form then you al­ways have some­one who is com­ing in to that po­si­tion. For me ev­ery­one played re­ally well against County. I watched the game and en­joyed it.”

And with a grow­ing num­ber of clubs show­ing an in­ter­est in Moussa Dem­bele as a re­sult of his goalscor­ing hero­ics, it seems un­avoid­able that he will de­part Celtic in the not-too-dis­tant fu­ture.

Manch­ester United, who sent a scout to Ding­wall on Wed­nes­day, are the lat­est party to be linked with a player who cost £500,000 in the sum­mer.

But Brown is hop­ing his team-mate can see the ben­e­fits of stay­ing at Celtic Park.

“It’s been great play­ing here,” said Brown. “I’ve played in the Cham­pi­ons League and got into the last 16.

“On Cham­pi­ons League nights you get noth­ing bet­ter than play­ing at Celtic Park. You ask the best play­ers in the world that come here. They’ve strug­gled to win here eas­ily and per­form as they can be­cause of the crowd.

“There have been a lot of play­ers who have stayed here who have had great ca­reers. There have been a lot of play­ers who have had chance to go down south and have ended up play­ing rel­e­ga­tion foot­ball while we are play­ing Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball.”

Brown added: “Moussa is a lovely char­ac­ter. He is a nice, hon­est boy. He comes in, does his train­ing and doesn’t say too much. He isn’t big time or any­thing. He works hard and just chills out. You can imag­ine how chilled out he is just now with the way he’s been play­ing. As long as he is en­joy­ing his foot­ball, hope­fully he stays here for a long time as well.”

IN THE THICK OF IT: Celtic cap­tain Scott Brown is ex­pected to re­turn to the start­ing XI at Pit­to­drie to­day

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