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GREAT SCOTT; CELTIC STRACH HAILS MIDFIELDER Brown has the drive to make Celts' engine tick.

Byline: By JOHN DOCHERTY

GORDON STRACHAN last night saluted Scott Brown for his desire to cover every blade of grass.

Brown was Scotland's powerhouse, lifting the Man of the Match in Saturday's 0-0 World Cup qualifier against Norway at Hampden.

And Strachan will be looking for more of the same when champions Celtic play at Inverness tomorrow ahead of Tuesday night's crunch Champions League clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

"Scott is now in a state of mind where he can play in any midfield position," said Strachan.

"For a while he played in a role that he'd done through all his years. But then he had to change it to a different style of football.

"He now knows where he should be in conjunction with the ball. That's good for him because if he knows where the ball is going to be, it makes the game easier. Scott will play different roles for us because he can.

"I wouldn't say he's better as a defensive player because you cannot take away what he's got. He can't be a defensive midfielder.

"But other managers can use him whatever way they want. What I'm saying is, he has now got a lot more in his locker. It's something he has learned.

"I thought at the start of my career that there was only one way to play right midfield. Then over the years I found there was three or four ways.

"Scott has football ability and the fitness which allows him to move into different positions. Some people can't play four or five different positions because their ability doesn't allow them to do that."

Brown might have scored just one goal this season, against Livingston in the Co-op Cup, but that is not an issue for Strachan. He insisted: "As long as the team is scoring as a group then we don't mind. It's a bit of a cliche, but true, that if the goal tally is good at the end of the month then it doesn't matter who scores them."

Strachan said he is also pleased by the progress of former Barcelona midfielder Marc Crosas and added: "You have to remember that Marc only played five games for Barcelona in I don't know how many years, so it's unusual for him to play so many in a row.

"He needs to get used to it and we need to get him match-fit. We are happy with him. I'm trying to get a team where everyone can pass the ball and everyone is comfortable and understands what good players are doing.

"Then you don't have a weakness in that area."

While United beckon, Strachan is keeping his cards firmly against his chest.

He said: "If you are asking me if I have 11 for Old Trafford, then yes. I'll have a look this afternoon for my 11 for Inverness. We are playing all right. We are happy with our form."

Strachan, meanwhile, reckons Caley present dangerous opposition as he has already discovered to his cost.

"The best we have played up there we ended up beat. We lost 3-2. It's swings and roundabouts because Inverness will probably say they have played well and lost, such as when we scored two goals in the last few minutes."

Inverness might be a long trek but it does not worry Strachan. "It's a doddle that journey. It's only three hours. In England you have that every week. It's a beautiful journey as well.

"In the old days it would take us two-and-half hours to go from Aberdeen to Dundee. We'd travel down the day of the game. We'd be stuck behind one of those fish lorries and we'd stink for a week."

Scott has the football ability and fitness which allows him to move into different positions

CAPTION(S):

KEEPIE UP Scott Brown works on his ball control in training with the Celtic squad at Lennoxtown yesterday; BROWN FAN Celtic boss Gordon Strachan
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 17, 2008
Words:660
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