Manager boosted by captain's return
By: Laura Brannan on 10 May, 2013 15:49
NEIL Lennon may have given some players a timely rest ahead of the closing fixtures of the season, but one player who has been working hard behind the scenes is Scott Brown, and he is on the verge of making his comeback this weekend.
The Hoops have been boosted by the news their captain has returned from injury and will be included in the squad to face St Johnstone on Saturday.
Brown last featured in the home tie against Juventus in February, but has recovered well after going under the knife, and the manager knows he is desperate to get back into the starting XI as soon as possible.
"He will be in the squad tomorrow for the first time which is great news for us and him," the Irishman said. "He´s in the squad with a view to playing at some stage tomorrow.
"His rehab has gone really well and we´re delighted. He´s been training for the last week to 10 days and he´s looking fine, he just needs football now.
"If we can get him up to speed for the cup final, with Wanyama and Kayal both being suspended, then that´s a timely boost for us."
The manager is also delighted to welcome back injured duo, James Forrest and Adam Matthews, as well as the players who were given time off last week.
"Everyone´s back now," he added. "They came back on Tuesday and Wednesday and have had a pretty intense week of training. Obviously we´re gearing towards the next three games with the cup final in mind at the end of May. It´s a big squad to choose from this week."
And the manager can´t wait to see his star players get their hands on the well-deserved silverware at full-time. The Bhoys will be presented with the SPL trophy for the second consecutive year and now his three-match touchline suspension has ended, he also hopes to enjoy a victory from the dugout as well.
"It´s going to be very special," he said. "It´s a very significant day for the players, the supporters and myself. I want them to enjoy it but I want them to win the game first and play well, I don’t want them to get sidetracked by the celebrations afterwards.
"We want to win the game against a very competitive St Johnstone team who we have had problems against already this season, then we can really enjoy the celebrations after that."
Having already lost 2-1 to St Johnstone as well as drawing 1-1 with them twice, the manager knows it will be a tough encounter. He´s hoping for a scoreline similar to that of the League Cup clash, though, when the Hoops won 5-0 at Celtic Park.
His players have struggled against Steve Lomas´ side on occasion this season, leading him to believe the St Johnstone boss should have been considered for the Manager of the Year award.
"He came off the back of Derek McInnes, who had done a really solid job. and carried that on," he said. "He´s lost a few good players but recruited well.
"Going forward the likes of Tade, Hasselbaink, Vine and MacLean have been very good additions to the squad. They have a pretty mean defence and the goalkpeer´s had a good season, Steve brought him in as well. For his first two seasons at top level of management he´s been excellent."
Meanwhile the manager was saddened to hear the news of Stiliyan Petrov´s decision to retire from football, but shared his thoughts on such an influential player.
"It´s tragic news but the more tragic news came a year ago," he continued. "He´s fighting this illness fantastically well.
"As a player he was the all-round modern day midfield player. He was box-to-box, technically very good and a fantastic goalscorer.
"He´s very humble, a great team-mate and a great friend. Unfortunately his fantastic career has been curtailed, but he´s got other battles to win in his life and I´m sure he will."