Roving role brings out the best in reborn Brown

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The Independent Online

Scott Brown is refusing to take his place in the Celtic midfield for granted, despite his superb recent form. Brown, 23, has delivered a series of all-action performances in recent matches after being given more licence to roam by manager Gordon Strachan. And he believes the return of Marc Crosas from a three-month injury lay-off in Saturday's Scottish Cup win over Dundee shows Celtic now have an embarrassment of riches in the middle of the park.

"There is a real competition for places now and that's great for the squad," Brown said. "Nobody is taking their position for granted, because we know that we will lose our place if we let the standards slip.

"Marc is back now and that's a big boost for the boys. He started the season well and then did his hamstring up at Inverness. That was a blow but he's fine now and he'll make a big contribution over the next few months. He showed earlier this season that he can be a big player for us. I think we were all impressed by his performances and I'm sure he'll get better as the season goes on." Scotland international Brown is relishing his central midfield role in front of Crosas or Paul Hartley.

He said: "I've been given licence to roam and I do enjoy it. When you have someone like Marc Crosas or Paul Hartley behind you, it's easier to do that. The boys can just sit in a bit more and let me bomb on. They can also chip in with a few goals and I can sit deeper if I need to. I'm really enjoying my football and long may it continue."

Brown netted his fourth goal of the season on Saturday and his performance has been singled out by Celtic coach Neil Lennon. "He did really, really well at the weekend," Lennon said. "He has got a great turn of pace and he's a strong runner. That was evident with the goal. He burst forward and that's something we're trying to get him to do at every opportunity he can. He took his goal well. He had a bit of luck with the rebound, but he earned it. Hopefully he can keep building on the platform he has given himself and take his game on.

"I don't know what the difference is between this year and last. He's maybe had a look at some of the discipline problems he had last year and he has more or less cut that out completely."

Lennon also backed goalkeeper Artur Boruc to bounce back from his latest blunder, an air-shot that handed Dundee a shock lead on Saturday. But he warned the Pole would have to work harder to improve his all-round game. "I think it's a concern for him and for us as well," Lennon said. "It is probably a concentration thing more than anything but we all make mistakes. When a goalkeeper makes them, they are highlighted even more. But he will have to knuckle down.

"I don't think he needs a rest, but I do think he will have to come in and put it to one side. We have been over this before. He is a strong character and he always comes back from it, but he has got to put everything into training and I'm sure he'll start feeling better about himself again."

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