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TONY MOWBRAY last night admitted to feeling vulnerable during international weeks.

And the Celtic boss hinted heavily he wasn't happy Scott Brown didn't come off earlier in the game against Macedonia.

Mowbray caught Scotland's World Cup qualifier on television and didn't enjoy watching his midfielder hobble about for 20 minutes before being subbed.

Brown, of course, scored the first goal in the 2-0 win but his club gaffer would have preferred if his player hadn't been on the park by that time.

Mowbray said: "I always try to keep an eye on my players when they are playing internationals.

"If we have guys involved in different games I flick channels and try to keep up with all of them. There can be positives and negatives from that.

"One of the negatives was seeing Scott hobble off and noticing he'd been injured for about 20 minutes. That sort of scenario leaves you feeling a bit vulnerable and you worry about your players coming back."

One of the positives for Mowbray was Stephen McManus, left, completing 90 minutes for Scotland.

Mowbray said: "Stephen was in for his experience and did a good job. That shows he is ready to play when I need him."

Celtic's players are in for a hard week with a home match against Dundee United on Saturday then a trip to Israel to meet Hapoel Tel Aviv in the Europa League on Thursday before facing Hearts at Parkhead.

Mowbray said: "It's been busy since day one and this week is no different. We just need to get ready to go again. The positives for the league matches are they are both at home. The negatives are they are against top sides I expect will challenge in the SPL this season.

Hobbled "We go into the United game without Aiden McGeady through suspension and by the way Scott hobbled off on Saturday there may be a question mark over him.

"I'm not sure how many players United had on international duty but I'd expect their preparation has been better than ours.

"It's never ideal coming off an international break as it will be Friday before we get everybody together. But we had to deal with that against Aberdeen on the opening day and it worked out okay."

Mowbray also spoke for the first time about the signing of China captain Zheng Zhi and said: "He is a midfielder and I like his versatility. He can play in a holding role but can also get forward and score goals.

"Zhi has plenty of experience and will add a lot to the squad.

"When an opportunity arises to bring a versatile 29-year-old international captain to your club I think it's a good move."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 10, 2009
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