Noel Whelan has blasted Scott Brown for failing to offer the Celtic defence enough cover from midfield this season.
The former Aberdeen and Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, admitted he was alarmed by how many goals the Hoops had shipped this term and insisted the midfield was as much to blame as the defence.
Celtic have kept just eight clean sheets in 25 games this season and have conceded at least two goals in 10 of their last 12 matches across all competitions.
Club captain Brown has continued to be a mainstay for Neil Lennon this season with 22 starts under his belt, although he was named among the substitutes for Thursday’s Europa League clash with Lille.
Whelan has admitted the 35-year-old has not lived up to his usual high standards at Parkhead this season and suggested things could get “a lot worse” for the Bhoys if they did not find some “fight” over the coming weeks.
Asked if Brown was doing enough in midfield this season, Whelan told Football Insider: “He’s in there to win battles, in there to command the midfield area, to get people going forward as a team but also to make yourself nice and strong and secure as a unit.
“It scares me they’re getting through too easily, you can’t say you’re doing your job right if you’re conceding goals, it’s as simple as that.
“Players will be disappointed themselves, I’m very critical but you’ve got to be critical of yourself as well – could you do better, can I do better, am I at top of my game?
“No is the answer to all of that backline and the midfield in front as well, they’re not doing a good enough job protecting them – defensively, as a unit, they’ve got a hell of a lot of work on.
“If there’s no fight in them, they’re going to struggle, massively. That’s what they need, pride in their own performances, fight not to let this happen again, fight between one another to dig out the best in one another.
“If you don’t have that kind of leadership in there, and those kind of weak mentality and weak players, then you’re going to be struggling massively, it could get a lot worse.
In other Celtic news, Alex McLeish has revealed why he thinks Lennon has not been sacked at Parkhead yet.