Rodgers backs Brown

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers thinks a change in approach from Scott Brown is a key factor in his improved form and not just his temporary decision to quit international football.

Brown has made himself available for Scotland’s upcoming World Cup qualifier against England little over two months after announcing his retirement from the national team.

Having previously extolled the benefits of the additional rest, Rodgers gave a qualified backing to Brown’s U-turn, applauding his loyalty to his country and Gordon Strachan during a difficult time in the former Celtic manager’s spell in charge.

And the Parkhead boss stressed there were a number of reasons for the 31-year-old’s resurgence.

“It’s not just about not playing for Scotland, it’s his overall approach to the game, his life,” Rodgers said.

“He is much leaner now than maybe he has been, if you look at his frame, his shape and his fitness.

“It wasn’t just the international side of it. If he was going to reach the levels over the next few years that I thought he could, he had to change his approach to the game.

“And that has really, really helped, and it’s a great credit to him that he has done that.

“It was a short retirement but we will see how it goes against England and then take it from there.

“I was a wee bit surprised because we speak regularly. He is an adult, he is a big grown man, he can make his own decisions.”

Brown impressed again as Celtic extended their lead at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership to nine points with a 1-0 victory over Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

Tom Rogic’s controlled half-volley lit up a tight first half and Celtic missed a series of chances to double their lead either side of half-time, with Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis playing a significant role in their failure to do so.

That allowed Aberdeen to press hard for a late equaliser but Celtic and their central defenders, Jozo Simunovic and Erik Sviatchenko, stood firm and Craig Gordon pulled off an excellent reaction stop from the Dane’s misplaced header five minutes into injury-time.

With Kolo Toure struggling with a groin strain and Kieran Tierney facing ankle surgery and two months out, Celtic look set to have an unchanged back four against Borussia Monchengladbach. Rodgers is satisfied with Simunovic and Sviatchenko’s form ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash in Germany.

“The reality is they will probably be the two that play consistently, but we are having to manage Jozo because of his long-term injury and history over the past six months to a year,” he said.

“Those two have been brilliant and the beauty for Celtic is that they are both still young. They are dominant, they want to defend first and foremost, win headers.

“That was a big test for them defensively but they have the calmness to play.”

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes felt his team deserved a point and he defended his decision to leave out James Maddison and top goalscorer Adam Rooney until the 53rd minute.

Maddison was instrumental in Aberdeen’s late push but McInnes started with a more solid central midfield featuring Kenny McLean, Graeme Shinnie and the returning Ryan Jack, while Wes Burns was utilised up front.

“We went with a team to try and spook them with pace and I thought they defended a bit deeper as a result of that,” McInnes said.

“We got the subs on at the right time, still enough time to get something from the game.

“James the last couple of games hasn’t been at his sparkling best but even if he had have been, I felt the game would have been busy, frantic. We needed trust in the wider areas, we didn’t want Celtic overloading in wide areas.

“I understand, when you leave Maddison and Rooney out and and don’t win the game, you can be questioned but I would still do the same thing again.

“James brought that confidence and calmness in the final third when he doesn’t rush, good players do that, but I need to get the balance right between attacking and defending and not being out the game before we had a chance to win the game.”

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