Brendan Rodgers has a big decision to make ahead of Celtic’s make or break Europa League clash against Red Bull Salzburg.
The Hoops welcome the Austrian champions to Parkhead on Thursday night needing just a point to progress to the knockout stages of the competition. But much of the build-up has centred around whether Scott Brown will return at the base of midfield.
Captain Brown has been an undisputed starter throughout Rodgers’ reign but his place in the XI has come under threat since he suffered a knee injury in the autumn with Callum McGregor standing out in his absence.
But should Brown return to the first-team when Salzburg come to town? In quotes reported by the Evening Times, Celtic legend John Hartson has backed Rodgers to leave the 33-year-old, and fellow midfielder Olivier Ntcham, on the bench.
“Before he got injured, I would have had Brown in my team for every big game. So, too, would the manager,” Hartson said. “But I don’t think Brown will start against Salzburg on Thursday night, a game he was born to play in.
"Had you asked me in October, I would have said that Rodgers would trust his captain even at 70 per cent for such a big night.
However, I believe Brown, and Olivier Ntcham as well, will have to make do by being substitutes.”
Both Ntcham and Brown were absent from the starting XI as Celtic battered Kilmarnock 5-1 at Parkhead on Sunday. And it would certainly be very harsh if Rodgers decided to leave out the in-form McGregor, not to mention Ryan Christie with the 23-year-old scoring seven goals in his last nine games in all competitions.
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