The Sunday Post (Dundee)


He retired because he can’t see us in Russia

- Gordon SMITH

SCOTT BROWN’S decision to retire from internatio­nal football will have upset a lot of Scotland fans.

Had he done so at the end of last season, there would probably have been greater acceptance from the Tartan Army.

His form then was poor, with his display in the defeat to Rangers in the League Cup semi-final one of the worst I have ever seen from him. But now, when he looks back to his very best with Celtic, it was very surprising and, for many, disappoint­ing.

His club boss Brendan Rodgers has said he thought it was the “right move”, a reaction which will convince more than a few his input was all for Brown calling it quits at 50 caps.

He insists otherwise, talking of the player making the right choice for himself and his family.

Anyone who has followed the game will know that pressure isn’t always directly applied.

Talk often enough to an individual about their need to get sufficient rest in order to be at their physical peak, and they will start looking at possible ways to cut down their travelling time.

The Celtic manager is open about demanding his players play a fast, aggressive, pressing football – a style which demands a lot from its participan­ts.

Brown has bought into it, tweaking his game slightly to get himself in step with the new regime.

It has worked. He is injury-free, and in the Champions League win over Hapoel Be’er Sheva during the week, was at his very best.

His argument is that he can only maintain the standard by dedicating himself entirely to club football.

Scott will know his own body best. But it is a shame the decision will rob him of the chance to back up Rodgers’ contention he could easily play in the English Premier League by leading Scotland with distinctio­n in the World Cup qualifier against England at Wembley on November 11.

Given the strength of his patriotism, it is also impossible to avoid the conclusion that, whatever he says, he doesn’t much fancy our chances of making it to Russia in 2018.

If he did, then surely he would try to hang around to be part of what would be our first appearance at a major Finals in two decades. Even at the risk of being squeezed out of the Scotland team, something which would definitely hurt his standing in the game.

So where does it leave the country?

There is plenty of cover in the position. James Morrison, James McArthur and Darren Fletcher are just three examples.

There is also, I would argue, a few decent contenders to take the skipper’s armband.

The trio above will all have their supporters.

But I would pick either Grant Hanley or Russell Martin, two players who are likely to be key to our chances of qualifying, for the honour.

If we could pull it off, it would give the man they are succeeding the opportunit­y to repent at leisure.

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