Celtic anxious over Brown's Japan plan

Midfielder keen to play as often as possible but club prefer to pace his recovery
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The Independent Football

Scott Brown insists he does not want to miss any matches for club or country amid fears his workload could lead to a recurrence of his ankle injury. Reports suggest he will soon visit a specialist to check up on his recovery from a summer operation.

Celtic's assistant manager, Mark Venus, has urged Scotland not to pick Brown for next month's friendly in Japan if the 24-year-old is not 100 per cent fit. Venus fears pushing the player too hard early in the season could mean he pays the price later in the campaign.

Venus said: "We know he's got a weakness in his ankle, an irritation in his ankle, which time and a bit of rest might help. So I think the kid needs a rest. But on one hand you rest him, and on the other hand there's talk about him going away with Scotland. Where is the dividing line? When can you rest him?

"There is a chance he could be asked to go to Japan. How do you get round that? I want to put on the record that our football club is right behind the Scotland manager. Whenever he needs this club for the right games, hopefully we will want to help out.

"If he's totally fit, 100 per cent fit, he can go. But if he's got a niggle and you play him with an injection, and you want to do that, the bottom line is I'd just bring him back if he's injured.

"There has to be a bit of an understanding between both parties. Are we against Scotland? No, we want Scotland to win. I hope none of the players with niggles have to travel. It's time to get the players rested and look after them."

But in an interview which took place before Venus revealed his concerns, Brown told this week's Celtic View magazine: "The more games the merrier. I played a lot of matches last season, and, hopefully, it's the case this year again.

"You have 38 games in the SPL, and someone told me we'd have to play 19 in total – including the qualifiers – if we go all the way in the Europa League. Throw in cup games and internationals, and there will be a lot to keep us all occupied. That's ideal for me. I enjoy training, but nothing beats playing."

Brown has played 10 matches for Celtic and Scotland already this season but insists he is feeling good. "I'm feeling better now and it's just great to be back in the team, getting regular 90 minutes under my belt," he said.

"It's never ideal to be sitting in the stand when your team-mates are out there playing. I want to be out there fighting the battles with the players."

The club's manager, Tony Mowbray, has revealed that new signing Zheng Zhi is finally set to join up his Celtic team-mates. Reports claim Zheng flew to his native China to obtain paperwork from the relevant authorities which allows him to begin his Parkhead career.

The 29-year-old has not played a competitive game since leaving Charlton at the end of last season and Mowbray plans to get him up to speed as soon as possible, but that will not involve him being blooded in Saturday's trip to St Mirren. Mowbray said: "Zheng will be here from now on in and it's all guns blazing from then. I don't expect him to be involved on Saturday, but we'll see him soon."