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‘SCOTLAND FUTURE IS DOWN TO BROONY,’ CELTIC BOSS

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BRENDAN RODGERS has spoken to stand-in Scotland boss Malky Mackay about Scott Brown’s international future.

The Celtic captain made a comeback for his country to help out former boss Gordon Strachan last year.

Now there are question marks hanging over the 32-year-old midfielder’s commitment following the sacking of the Scots gaffer following the failure to reach the World Cup Finals in Russia next summer.

CQN reported at the weekend Brown would talk to Mackay, but Rodgers has told how he had a meeting with the Scottish FA performance director last week to discuss the skipper’s involvement.

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He said: “I spoke to Scott, I had a good meeting. I also spoke with Malky. He’s going into a game with Holland and he’ll want to do well in it as will the players.

“I have my feelings on it with Scott and I’ll always say that to him, but ultimately it’s down to him and his body and where he’s at.

“Scotland will be embarking soon on the European Championship front, so if they can get to that he’ll be 35. That is probably something for him to think about.

“He’s the catalyst for the team, he’s still fit, he’s still fresh. You saw the level of his game in Bayern Munch, he’s still a top-class operator at that level.

“But I also know he wants to really maintain his Celtic career for as long as he can.

“I said to him it’s worth speaking to Malky, go and have a chat and see where you’re at for this next game.”

Rodgers insisted he wil not stand in the way of any of his players wanting to play in the friendly against the Dutch at Pittodrie on November 9.

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The likes of Brown, Craig Gordon, Keiran Tierney, James Forrest, Stuart Armstrong, Callum McGregor and Leigh Griffiths will almost certainly be included.

The Hoops manager added: “It’s not ideal, with them playing so many games, but the Scottish boys love playing for their country.

“I’d never deny a player that chance. If they want to speak to me or me speak to an international manager then that’s what we’ll do.

“But that’s what I love about the Scottish boys – they are so honest.

“I’ll always have a Scottish core here, they want t play in every game and they love working.

“They want to do their bit for Scotland as well and I’m not one to talk them out of it.”

HOW FAR CAN CELTIC GO IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE?

When Celtic got drawn in Group B alongside the likes of PSG and Bayern Munich, we all recognised that our prospects of advancing to the knock-out rounds after Christmas looked pretty slim. The realistic target was to finish third and progress into the Europa League, where anything could happen!

PSG is one of the richest, if not the richest side in world football right now. They are lucky to have the money at their disposal to field Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani in the final third.

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Bayern Munich are giants in European football and have quality running through their side too.

The final team in the group, Anderlecht, were therefore the team Celtic looked at and thought, we’re our chance.

When the groups were drawn, it’s very likely that all clubs look at their opponents and try and work out a realistic plan of how they’re going to achieve what they feel they can.

The likelihood is that Celtic will have felt that there was no way that they would end up winning the group. With PSG and Bayern both considerable stronger sides, they would have hoped at the beginning that one of those two run away with it, leaving the other to battle for second place, along with Celtic.

The real question of how far Celtic can go in the Champions League this season is probably dependant on their next result.

So far Celtic have lost at home to PSG and away to Bayern Munich. We do however have 3 points on the table earned in Brussels when we beat Anderlecht and are therefore only 3 points behind second placed Bayern Munich as things stand.

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It’s Bayern who are next up for Celtic at Celtic Park and this game could really be make or break for Brendan Rodgers’ team. According to Sportingbet, the German side is odds on favourites at 3/10 and Celtic are 9/1 to walk away with the win; which is probably a fair assessment of the match. Celtic are on course to finish third in the group anyway, dropping into the Europa League; but any sort of result against Bayern could change the picture completely.

Celtic beat Anderlecht 3-0 away and were very convincing winners on the night. On the back of that you would expect them to take another 3 points off of them when Anderlecht make the trip to Celtic Park. Now, it’s going to be tough for Celtic anytime they play Bayern, no matter what the venue.

Celtic Park though, on European football nights, has something special about it, especially with how vocal the Celtic fans are. Any sort of result against Bayern could put them in with a shot at finishing second in the group, if results go their way over the course of the group.

If Celtic lose to Bayern, the likelihood is that they will finish third in the group and therefore drop into the Europa League.

With Celtic being so strong domestically, we still remain unbeaten for over a year, it’s testament to the work put in by Brendan Rodgers and his players that they didn’t let the two defeats in Europe affect their domestic form. That could also be instrumental in them taking vital points off of Bayern Munich in their next Champions League fixture, as they may look at is as having nothing to lose but everything to gain.

CQN PODCAST FROM HAMPDEN

KEVIN GRAHAM hosts another match day podcast from Hampden on Saturday featuring some of FIFA’s Best Supporters in the World.

This week’s Matchday Special saw Brendan Rodgers’ side carry a 59-match undefeated domestic run into the League Cup semi final against Neil Lennon’s Hibs.

Kevin provides pre and post-match discussion with members of his CSC, as well as in-match analysis in what will be a regular Celtic State of Mind feature.

Connect with A Celtic State of Mind @PaulDykes, @anorthernprose and @CQNMagazine.

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