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Brown remains a key part of my plans, maintains Rodgers

 

By Ronnie Esplin

Brendan Rodgers insists skipper Scott Brown still has a big role to play at Celtic despite starting Sunday's Betfred Cup final win over Aberdeen on the bench.

The 33-year-old midfielder, whose contract is up at the end of the season and who has been linked with a move to Australia, returned after more than a month out with injury as a second-half substitute in last Thursday's 1-0 Europa League win over Rosenborg in Trondheim.

He also had to wait until the second half of the 1-0 Hampden Park win over the Dons before he replaced Tom Rogic to help the Hoops see out the victory.

Ahead of the trip to Fir Park to play Motherwell in the Ladbrokes Premiership tonight, Rodgers said: "The team has been in very good condition, they have been playing very well.

"I felt that the game for one or two of the players coming back was just a game too early.

"But listen, there is no doubt that Scott Brown is a very important player for us.

"People have been trying to write him off since I first came in here and he has proven to be an outstanding player for me and a great captain.

"He still has a big role to play for me. As for the team in general there will be changes within it, of course, but the team played very well and Scott used his experience coming into the game late on to ensure we closed the game out."

It was Ulsterman Rodgers' seventh trophy win out of seven since he took over at the Parkhead club in 2016 and the first instalment of a possible domestic treble treble.

The former Swansea and Liverpool boss insists sights are already set on the next triumph.

He said: "When you are in it, you are always planning forward and trying to think of the next target.

"Time will judge us as a team. We certainly aren't finished yet in terms of what we want to achieve.

"We are very hungry to sustain this period of our game and what we are trying to win.

"It is a testament to the players in the two and a half years we have been here, the confidence and resilience.

"They showed again their appetite at the weekend. It is our seventh trophy but we will aim for the eighth."

Dedryck Boyata's hamstring injury, meanwhile, has ruled him out of Celtic's squad for the clash at Fir Park tonight and he is a doubt for next week's crunch Europa League match against Salzburg.

The Hoops defender picked up the injury in the Betfred Cup final win against Aberdeen at Hampden Park on Sunday.

Kristoffer Ajer (fractured eye socket), Eboue Kouassi and Daniel Arzani (both knee) remain on the sidelines and Nir Bitton is on the comeback trail following knee trouble of his own.

Motherwell

Celtic

Ladbrokes Premiership

Fir Park, Tonight, 7.45pm

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