SCOTT BROWN has been playing through the pain barrier to help drive Celtic into the Champions League third round qualifiers against AEK Athens.

Brendan Rodgers revealed the Hoops skipper has been nursing the same Achilles injury he struggled with at this time last season.

The inspirational midfielder helped ease the team through the Trondheim test in midweek to secure a 3-1 aggregate triumph to set up the clashes with the Greek aces.

And Brown will become the first Scottish player to make 100 appearances in continental competition in the first leg at Parkhead on Wednesday night.

Rodgers believes reaching that remarkable landmark is due to his desire to play even when he is not 100 per cent fit.

The Celtic boss said: “He has had an issue with his Achilles. But he is fine. He will be in to recover and he will soldier on like he does and play himself out of it. I think it is just a case of getting through it over these next two to three weeks.

“I think that he is getting recognised now for the great career that he has had and is having. He is a wonderful leader. To play that number of games you have got to be available, so it is a great testament to how he looks after himself and his fitness.

“He has made himself available for all these games. He is wonderful example for all our players, both senior and youth. His leadership qualities and his drive and hunger to play is admirable. Hopefully he has got many more.”

Rodgers added: “He has just got this in-built love of football and love of the game. You get to that stage in your life and your career where you know you aren’t 21 or 22 and the brain starts to talk to you a little bit more and you recognise that you need to maximise every time you train and every time you play.

“He is a mature guy now and he appreciates it a lot more. He is just embracing it all. He has been brilliant in my time here, I have to say. I am so proud that he is the captain of this club.”

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