Lennon: Brown career not risked
Neil Lennon insists Celtic will not jeopardise Scott Brown's career despite admitting the skipper has to take an injection before every game.
Brown, 27, has been used sparingly this season, mostly in European ties, and his Scotland comeback in the 2014 World Cup qualifier against Wales last week - after missing the home double-header against Serbia and Macedonia last month - ended at half-time in Cardiff when he could no longer continue.
The former Hibernian midfielder was unable to recover from his on-going hip problem for the 2-0 defeat by Belgium in Brussels on Tuesday night and is unlikely to feature in Saturday's SPL game against St Mirren in Paisley.
The Parkhead boss is hoping to have Brown available for next week's Champions League clash with Barcelona in the Nou Camp but asked if there could be any concerns about the player in the long-term, he replied:
"That would be a decision for the medical team.
"If they were to feel it is a long-term problem then they would shut him down automatically.
"We would not put his career or his future in jeopardy at all.
"But the medical team seem to think he can cope with this at the minute.
"He gets rest and recovery in between games. He gets treatment, an injection before games and plays.
"For me, Scott is playing the best football of his career.
"It is just unfortunate that he has a significant problem.
"Speaking to the medical team, the only solution is a concerted period of rest.
"But he wanted to play for Scotland and we won't stand in his way of that but he was feeling sore even in the warm-up.
"He got through the first-half and from where I was watching he looked pretty comfortable but obviously he was in a bit of distress and had to come off at half-time which isn't like him.
"The majority of games he comes through unscathed but the days after the game are a huge problem for him in terms of discomfort and pain."
Winger James Forrest, who missed both Scotland games with a groin injury picked up while training with the national team is in the same boat as Brown with regards his availability for the matches against St Mirren and Barcelona, while midfielder Kris Commons is also doubtful for the weekend with a hamstring complaint he picked up playing against Belgium.
Lennon said: "James did his groin in training with the Scotland squad and Scott, as you know, has this on-going problem.
"This weekend may be too soon for them but they might have a chance for Tuesday.
"We are still waiting on Georgios Samaras, Emilio Izaguirre, Miku and Victor Wanyama to return (from international duty) but we are hoping to see them later on today or tomorrow but we have no reports of any knocks or niggles."
Lennon denied contract talks with Gary Hooper have broken down and is unimpressed with reports claiming his star striker could be on his way to Liverpool.
With Fabio Borini expected to be out for up to three months with a broken foot and Andy Carroll on loan at West Ham, Luis Suarez is now the only senior striker available to Anfield boss Brendan Rodgers, who is reportedly interested in the 24-year-old former Scunthorpe player.
"It is speculation," said Lennon. "It wouldn't surprise me if there are a number of clubs in for Gary because of the way he is but I would poo-poo that (Liverpool link).
"We are still in negotiations at the minute and I don't think we are too far away.
"There will be interest in them (Hooper and keeper Fraser Forster) but they are not going anywhere.
"Fraser has signed a new contract and hopefully we are close to getting Gary's signature.
"If there are offers coming in, they will have to pay what we feel the valuation is."
Lennon is hoping that midfielder Wanyama also signs a new deal.
He said: "We are hoping to meet his representative again next week.
"He has been offered a new contract.
"We don't have to offer him a new contract, his
(current one) still has a couple of years to run but we feel it is a reward for performances he has put in since he came in the door.
"Whether his agent feels it is sufficient - that's what negotiations are all about.
"Hopefully we can come to a conclusion about that as well."