Tuesday 25 October 2016

Celtic Charlie Mulgrew: Scotland skipper Scott Brown could be the difference between the two sides

Scott Brown. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA
Scott Brown. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA

Charlie Mulgrew admits Scott Brown may not get the credit he deserves from all quarters - but warned the Republic of Ireland they are about to discover how good the Scotland skipper really is.

Celtic midfielder Mulgrew is expected to partner his Parkhead colleague in the engine room when the Scots take on Martin O'Neill's side in Dublin on Saturday.

The Aviva Stadium clash could yet prove pivotal to the Dark Blues' hopes of qualifying for Euro 2016 and boss Gordon Strachan will hope Mulgrew can repeat his man-of-the-match display from the last time the sides met in November.

But Mulgrew - back to full fitness after five months out with a knee injury - has warned the Irish it is the terrier-like Brown they will need to be wary of.

He said: "I enjoy playing with Scott. He does all the ugly side of the game which sometimes he doesn't get credit for.

"But you definitely see it when you play alongside or against him. Anyone partnering Scott knows the job he does and how valuable he is to this squad.

"He is definitely good enough to be playing somewhere like down south. We've seen it at international and Champions League level what a top-class player he is.

"Does he get the credit he deserves? I don't know. When you play alongside him and watch him closely you can see the job he does. He got my vote for Celtic's player of the year based on the difference he makes to the team."

Strachan heaped praise on Mulgrew last month when he named his squad for this weekend's clash.

He made special mention of the anchoring job the 29-year-old did in front of Scotland's back four when Ireland visited Celtic Park late in 2014.

His work shutting down Irish forays into Scottish territory set the tone for a huge team performance as Shaun Maloney's goal allowed the Tartan Army to celebrate a crucial 1-0 win.

But with regular centre-back Grant Hanley out injured, there is still a chance Mulgrew may be asked to deputise in the heart of Scotland's defence, while left-back is another area he has operated from in the past.

Mulgrew, though, is not worried his versatile nature will end up costing him a chance to settle down into his favoured midfield slot.

The 17-cap utility man - who started last Friday's friendly with Qatar in central defence - said: "It was good to get that 90 minutes. After being out injured you need to get as much game time as you can get."


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