Celtic must protect Scott Brown more this season

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more… 

At 34 Scott Brown is still a key player at Celtic, but he needs help from his club now more than ever if we are to see his best form again this campaign.

On the chalkboard

The club captain is yet to miss a minute of action this season as Neil Lennon’s men navigate a crucial period in their campaign. Despite it being just August, it’s a pivotal time for the club thanks to the Champions League qualifiers.

In what is such an important month for the club it’s obvious that you’d want your best players on the park as much as possible, but there have been chances to rest the captain that haven’t been taken.

With Nir Bitton deputising in defence and Olivier Ntcham taking an extended break before returning to Parkhead, it’s meant that Brown and Callum McGregor retained their place as the unquestioned duo at the heart of Lennon’s starting XI.

Give him a break

Brown has started to show his age in recent games. Both against Cluj and in the first half an hour of the 5-2 win over Motherwell at the weekend, he looked slightly lost as two high-intensity sides attacked the Bhoys. The skipper just looked slightly lethargic, but that’s no surprise given the time he spends on the pitch.

The ex-Hibs man played 51 times last season, missing eight games with a knee injury. That’s a lot of football for a combative midfielder in their mid-thirties, especially when he’s playing at such a high level. The club should now be looking at contingency plans for Brown as he reaches the twilight years of his career.

One such plan is Ecuador U20 international Jose Cifuentes. The defensive midfielder has been linked to the club this summer and would be the ideal back-up to Brown. He is extremely fit, tenacious, never backs out of a tackle and would offer that extra bite that Brown brings to the game.

Aged just 20, he would likely need time to settle in at Parkhead, as he gets used to a new country and the demands of being at such a historic club.

This could actually be perfect for Brown, allowing him to assert his dominance over the side still and take the youngster under his wing, while also having that extra option there to ease the pressure on the skipper in games that do not require his presence.

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