By Alex McLeish

6th Jan, 2021 | 7:00pm

'For Sure' - Exclusive: McLeish on major Scott Brown development

Alex McLeish believes Scott Brown will understand why he was axed from the Celtic starting XI against Rangers on Saturday.

The former Gers and Scotland boss, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, has admitted it will have come as a “hammer blow” to the 35-year-old to have been left out but insisted a rest will have done the midfielder no harm.

Ismaila Soro, David Turnbull, Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie started in the centre for Neil Lennon in the 1-0 defeat at Ibrox as Brown came on for the final 18 minutes.

He has now been left out of the starting XI for the Hoops’ last five league games, having been a mainstay in the side during a poor run of form for the Bhoys.

McLeish has backed Brown to get back to his best in time but admitted it was probably the right decision for Lennon to leave him out against Steven Gerrard’s men

“I’m sure Broony has still got a lot to give to Celtic,” McLeish told Football Insider.

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“He’s not getting any younger but far be it for me to say, I don’t know what kind of condition Broony’s in or what he’s like in the sprint tests against other players and his overall stamina and 100 yarders so only Broony can tell you that.

“I think he’s a wise enough guy to know when he’s at his best and when he needs a rest and I think it does no harm to give them a rest, even if it is an Old Firm game.

“That is a big decision when you take a major player and tell him he’s not playing in one of the most important games this season, it can be like a hammer blow to you but Neil would have done it, I’m sure, in the correct manner.

“He’d have given Scott Brown respect and explained to him why he was doing it, that’s all a player wants to hear. They don’t want to be just coming into the dressing room and saying: ‘Where’s the name Brown on the team sheet? What is happening here?’

“It seems Neil’s got a good rapport with his players, regardless of what we heard a few weeks ago, and he would have done the right thing by Scott.”

In other news: ‘Last thing Celtic need’ – Football Insider pundit reacts to footage from Dubai trip.