BRENDAN Rodgers believes the quality of Scottish football will suffer if the SFA fail to stamp out the over-the-top challenges which Celtic captain Scott Brown has been subjected to this season.

Brown was the victim of a shocking foul by Ross County captain Andrew Davies in a Ladbrokes Premiership match at Parkhead on Saturday – but the offending player looks set to escape with a mandatory two match ban.

Rodgers, whose side takes on Dundee in a league game at Parkhead this evening, feels the authorities have to make an example of those responsible for making bad high-profile chal-lenges.

“Every team you play against here is super-competitive,” he said. “They fight and they can make it difficult for you. The concern for me is if it goes over the mark and crosses the line and dilutes the standard of your game.

“If you’re getting bad tackles and challenges and some with clear intent that go unpunished, then it dilutes the quality of your game. My concern is the protection of players, whether it’s Scott Brown or whoever. They have a right to go on to the field and be protected.

“I’ve known Andrew Davies since he was a boy at Middlesbrough and I know his qualities and I know that was probably out of character for him. But it was still a tackle that could have really damaged the career of Scott Brown. I only highlight it so that there’s a protection for every player who plays the game.

“You want it competitive, the physicality is great here, the honesty and the passion. But if it goes over that then it affects the standard.

“I’ve always tried to be complimentary, but also never complacent and to raise the standard not just for Celtic but for everyone. That could be pitches, referees, football – whatever. How can we raise and make better the profile of Scottish football?

“If challenges like that come willy-nilly and you see it every week then it’s not good for the game or for people from outside watching the game. It’s not a good representation of the football in Scotland."

Rodgers added: "Where the authorities can intervene and give sanctions to certain reckless challenges for the good of the game and for players careers – some of whom are not on big money and who lose money if they are not playing – then it’s something we need to be look at and be careful with.”

“We will wait to see what the actual punishment is. I can only equate it with Jozo Simunovic, who was sent off. He should have been sent off but he had a raised, bent arm and gets two games for that. Okay, we take that, accept it, and move on.

“But you clearly have someone trying to hurt someone with that intent and to get the same sanction for that is not right.

“Listen, I don’t want to see players miss games, this is a short career for players. Especially Andrew Davies who must be 33 now, the latter stages of his career. You want to maximise playing time and maximise your career earnings.

“You want players to play and be competitive, but there has to be a point for the authorities to look at it and know that’s not right.

‘That’s the only way you can govern the game, by being really strong on this type of challenge. If not you dilute the quality and standard and perception of the league. And there is no deterrent either. Absolutely.

"We are trying to create a brand up here where there is passion and the games are competitive. It’s a difficult league to play in and for a manager and coach to work in. But a great league. But let’s ensure there is a standard set - in everything and make the game up here the very best it can be."

Meanwhile, Rodgers revealed that Craig Gordon, the Scotland goalkeeper who has been side-lined with a serious knee injury since the game against Hibernian at the end of January, set to make his comeback several weeks ahead of schedule against Dundee at Parkhead this evening.

“Craig Gordon is fine,” he said. “He’s back before his target date and he’s worked very hard, looked good in training and we’ll just make sure there are no after-effects. Obviously, Scott can’t play tomorrow, so if all’s well with Craig then he’ll start.

“He’s a number of weeks ahead. Sometimes they put the date further back, don’t they?

Then you return and it’s all great. It was a tough one for him at the time, a sore one, especially with his previous injury.

“He’s been down and had a couple of reviews during his rehabilitation so it’s all been progressing very well and he looks quick and strong again and ready to compete now.

“It’s slightly different with him than the outfield players. Some of them aren’t totally match ready, but the availability of them is very important. They’re training well. The group is very competitive every day.

“Everyone is fighting for their position and that’s probably what they’ve missed this season because we’ve been unfortunate with the number of injuries that we’ve had, whereas last year we had hardly any.

"That makes the competition greater on a daily basis. Then you have to be at your best to play. We saw that at the weekend with the speed and energy and creativity in the team. If the starting XI is not quite working we have good options for change."