Brown in agony after Benfica defeat but Lennon prepares to use skipper for push in Europe
00:07 GMT, 24 November 2012
It might well have been a medical bulletin on the victim of an industrial accident. For Neil Lennon, there is no disguising the often hideous pain Scott Brown is having to endure in order to wear the captain’s armband.
'He can’t get up out of bed some mornings,’ said the Celtic manager. 'He can’t drive. He’ll probably just make it down the stairs and lie on the couch for three or four hours before he can actually get up and start walking about.
'That’s because of pain and cramps. It’s caused by inflammation of the stomach and pelvic area.'
Walking wounded: Scott Brown (left) was in pain after the 2-1 defeat against Benfica
The price of success can come in many forms.
Brown’s current physical plight is a direct consequence of a brutal fixture schedule that’s been unrelenting four almost four months, Champions League qualifiers and group games interspersed with domestic and international commitments.
Even supreme athletes like him have their breaking point. That ability to charge at opponents at breakneck speed only for the breaks to screech comes at a cost.
After he limped out of the defeat to Benfica on Tuesday, his manager felt his injury had 'run its course' and in short order it will be given the medical attention it requires in the form of an operation.
But having received an absolute assurance from medics that pushing that date with the knife back two weeks will in no way further harm the player, Lennon will ask Brown to go to the well once again.
It’s not every day that the last 16 of the Champions League is on the line, after all.
'We’re not doing any more damage to him. It’s just not getting any better,' Lennon added.
'With the lack of training obviously his condition deteriorates a little bit but he’s such a good athlete that he’s coped as well as he has done so far.
'What I don’t want is for him to be maybe 60 to 70 per cent fit and I take a gamble with him. I’d rather just put somebody in who’s fit and ready to play (against Spartak).
Back in the fray: Brown will be used again in Celtic's bid to progress to the last 16
'He has been working really hard with the medical team and we are devising a programme for him for the next couple of weeks where he’ll get some game time and maybe have him really ready for Moscow.
'With the way the situation is, I’d imagine if we didn’t have Champions League football then we wouldn’t be going through this with him.
'We’d have rested him a lot more because we wouldn’t have such a build up of games.
'But it’s manageable. I mean, he’s out there training today.
'He doesn’t moan about it but that’s the problem sometimes. He’ll keep it to himself when I’d rather he told me. Then he’ll come to me and say “I was in bits yesterday” or “I can’t train today”.
'It was originally a stomach injury but it’s referring down to the hip and groin area so it needs sorting out. Joe Ledley is starting to show symptoms of it as well but obviously not as severe as Scott's.
'It’s just wear and tear from the demands of travelling. The physical and mental fatigue makes competing in four competitions a big ask but they are coping with it pretty well.'
Hard though it now seems to fathom, there was a time when the prospect of Brown being posted missing for such a mammoth match would not exactly have been met with a day of national mourning by the Celtic support.
These days, the understanding of Lennon’s desire to do all he can to ensure his skipper plays against Spartak is absolute.
Ready: Neil Lennon was in training ahead of Celtic's match against Inverness
Even if Victor Wanyama were not suspended for the Group G decider, Brown’s presence would be a matter of high importance to the manager.
Asked if he’d have been tempted to rest Brown if Wanyama had been available, Lennon replied: ‘No, because I’d like him to play anyway. We need players and, as close to his best condition as possible, he’s been brilliant for us.
'Certainly in the opening three games he had three brilliant games and he was fantastic for us and he‘s been playing the best football of his career – but this has really hampered him.
'I don’t think anyone now has any doubts that he is capable of being the captain. He has proved that over the last couple of years and I think he has won the support over.
'There were a few doubts about him for a while but I think now people see what a really good player he is. He has tidied up all the confrontational side of him on the pitch and the ill-discipline – he has matured a lot and has just been playing really well.'
Brown won’t be the only player who will be used sparingly against Inverness on Saturday, at Tynecastle on Wednesday then when Arbroath come visiting in the Scottish Cup next Saturday.
With four plates in the air, Lennon will mix and match his squad in the run-up to the Spartak game.
The deep-seated desire to progress in all competitions must be tempered with pragmatism and a sense of priority.
'They’re all important but ultimately the short-term aim would be the Spartak Moscow game,' Lennon conceded.
'First of all we have to get a team in our mind and then see how we go about balancing getting them ready for that.
Out: Victor Wanyama is suspended for the final Champions League match in Group G
'I would probably say that the majority of those who will play against Moscow – or who will be in contention for Moscow – wouldn’t play the weekend before against Arbroath.
'As regards these other two games, I want to be strong because they’re going to be difficult games for us.
‘If we can beat Arbroath in the Cup and regardless of what happens against Moscow we will be in the Europa League, so they’ve done very well so far.’
While the defeat in Lisbon was a marked improvement on many a European away day for Celtic over the past decade, the performance paled in significance with the overwhelming majority they’ve produced in Europe this season.
But with a home game against an already eliminated side to come, one in which a win would, in all probability, clinch qualification, there is no question of public castigation.
'I had a chat with them today about it,' Lennon continued.
All smiles: Lennon is ready to mix and match his squad before the Spartak Moscow match at Parkhead
'Sometimes it’s best to leave them to it and let them digest it themselves first. They know they weren’t at their best but they are punching well above their weight and still have a real fighting chance of qualifying.
'I know they can play better and I know they will play better at home. They know what’s at stake so it should be another great European night for us hopefully.
'We are delighted to be in Europe beyond Christmas but obviously we would like to take it further in the Champions league. Their efforts deserved but sometimes you don’t get what you deserve in football.
'We’ll have to play strong and well against Moscow because they are a very dangerous team who play really good football. But with us at home and knowing what’s at stake they’ll have to play really well to beat us.'