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Scott Brown can keep gutsy Scots moving towards big stage: Mulgrew

By Andy Newport

Published 12/06/2015

Dangerman: Scott Brown can pour misery on the Republic
Dangerman: Scott Brown can pour misery on the Republic

Charlie Mulgrew admits Scott Brown may not get the credit he deserves from all quarters - but warned the Republic of Ireland they are about to discover how good the Scotland skipper really is.

Celtic midfielder Mulgrew is expected to partner his Parkhead colleague in the engine room when the Scots take on Martin O'Neill's side in Dublin tomorrow.

The Aviva Stadium clash could yet prove pivotal to the Dark Blues' hopes of qualifying for Euro 2016 and boss Gordon Strachan will hope Mulgrew can repeat his man-of-the-match display from the last time the sides met in November.

But Mulgrew - back to full fitness after five months out with a knee injury - has warned the Irish it is the terrier-like Brown they will need to be wary of.

He said: "I enjoy playing with Scott. He does all the ugly side of the game which sometimes he doesn't get credit for.

"But you definitely see it when you play alongside or against him. Anyone partnering Scott knows the job he does and how valuable he is to this squad.

"He is definitely good enough to be playing somewhere like down south. We've seen it at international and Champions League level what a top-class player he is.

"Does he get the credit he deserves? I don't know. When you play alongside him and watch him closely you can see the job he does. He got my vote for Celtic's player of the year based on the difference he makes to the team."

Strachan heaped praise on Mulgrew last month when he named his squad for this weekend's clash.

He made special mention of the anchoring job the 29-year-old did in front of Scotland's back four when the Republic visited Celtic Park late in 2014.

His work shutting down Irish forays into Scottish territory set the tone for a huge team performance as Shaun Maloney's goal allowed the Tartan Army to celebrate a crucial 1-0 win.

But with regular centre-back Grant Hanley out injured, there is still a chance Mulgrew may be asked to deputise in the heart of Scotland's defence, while left-back is another area he has operated from in the past.

The 17-cap utility man, who started last Friday's friendly with Qatar in central defence, said: "It was good to get that 90 minutes on Friday. After being out injured you need to get as much game time as you can get.

"I'm feeling good and training has been good as well. There is a lot of game-like situations in training, the manager is keen on that so I feel good and every game helps.

"I'm delighted to be back. It was a long five months so it is good to get over that injury.

"Could I play in defence again on Saturday? I don't know. I've lost count of the amount of times I've been asked my favourite position and where I think I will play.

"I'm just concentrating on doing the best wherever I'm asked to play.

"I look at my versatility as being a positive. It gives me more chance to get on the pitch. That's the way I see it.

"I've heard some people mention before that it is better to settle in one position but I quite enjoy moving out. I'm happy to do a job wherever I'm asked to play and I'll do the best I can."

Wherever he plays, Mulgrew just hopes he can perform as well as he did the last time he came up against the Republic.

"That was definitely one of my best games for Scotland," he said. "You always know when you have played well and not so well. That night I felt I had played very well and I was very happy."

Belfast Telegraph

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