Brown injury adds to Celtic’s woe

NEIL LENNON revealed he will have to “shut down” Scott Brown after the Celtic skipper succumbed to his on-going ankle complaint in the pulsating 4-2 Clydesdale Bank Premier League defeat by Rangers yesterday.

Brown returned to the Hoops side for the first Old Firm game of the season and in a driving, powerful first-half performance, set up Gary Hooper and Badr El-Kaddouri for their goals after Steven Naismith had opened the scoring for the home side, although Gers keeper Allan McGregor all but threw the Moroccan’s long-range drive in to the net.

However, the Scotland midfielder, like the rest of the Celtic players, struggled after the break and when his injury flared up again he had to be replaced by James Forrest as goals from Nikica Jelavic, Kyle Lafferty and Naismith confirmed the champions’ dramatic comeback.

Brown played down the extent of his injury, saying, “I managed to hurt myself just a little bit but hopefully I will be okay.”

However, the Parkhead boss was not as confident in his prognosis after seeing Rangers stretch their lead at the top of the table over Celtic to four points.

“The ankle has gone again unfortunately,” said Lennon. “He got us playing in the first-half, he was instrumental in both of our goals so it was a blow losing him.

“It looks as if he is going to be shut down for a while until we can let it settle and get it right.”

Hoops utility player Charlie Mulgrew was sent off with the score 3-2 in the 75th minute, earning the second of his two yellow cards for a tackle on Steven Davis, but that was almost an irrelevance to Lennon, who questioned his players’ character. “I am angry, full stop, with our overall performance,” he said.

“I wouldn’t like to question their character but I had to ask that after the game. I don’t know if there was any fatigue from the game on Thursday night [against Atletico Madrid] night but we were second best a lot of the time and in games of this calibre you have to be physical, you have to win second balls, you have to battle and scrap and there was not a lot of that on show in the second-half.

“You have to earn the right to play in these games and we did that in the first-half and got a foothold in the game and got a bit of luck with our second goal. The warning signs were there when Davis hit the bar at the start of the second half but we didn’t take any heed and we lost the physical battle.”

For Mulgrew’s dismissal, Lennon said: “I didn’t think it was a sending off, I thought he got plenty of the ball so I was a bit annoyed about that.”

Brown refused to be too downbeat, however. He said: “It is frustrating that we were in the driving seat then lost two early goals [in the second-half].

“But it is early doors in the season and there is still a lot to play for.”

RANGERS: McGregor, Whittaker, Goian, Bocanegra, Papac, Naismith, Davis, Edu, Wylde, Lafferty (McCulloch 80), Jelavic (Healy 90).

CELTIC: Forster, M Wilson, Loovens, K Wilson, El Kaddouri (Stokes 63), Brown (Forrest 74), Kayal, Ki, Mulgrew, Hooper, Samaras (Bangura 83).

Ref: Craig Thomson (Sco).

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