YOU don’t get to 566 appearances for Celtic by listening too keenly to your critics. Scott Brown has confounded his doubters time and time again since making the move to Glasgow from Hibernian back in 2007, surging back from seemingly being on the brink at the club to continue clocking up the honours.

During that glittering 13-year stay with Celtic, there has perhaps only been one occasion where the prospect of him leaving was a real one. Late in 2018, a new name on the football scene in Australia, Western Melbourne FC, set their sights on making Brown their marquee signing, and gave the midfielder a decision to make.

After mulling it over, he decided that he still had more to offer Celtic, and there is no man no more relieved that he did than Neil Lennon. According to the current manager, it would have been catastrophic for the club had he been allowed to slope off into the antipodean sunset. So much so, that even when his legs eventually do give out, he will still do his damnedest to keep him at Celtic.

That’s not to say Lennon sees Brown hanging up his boots any time soon. The extended break that lies ahead due to the coronavirus epidemic doesn’t have many silver linings, but one could be the unexpected respite it gives to Brown after 50 appearances for Celtic so far this season.

“He is looking well, and he has had a great season so far,” said Lennon. “He will be around next year that’s for sure.

“I think he would be a huge loss to us as a club if he stopped playing. The way he has played and the way he leads on and off the park he has been exemplary up until now. This wee break might do him the word him the world of good.”

Much has been made of the markedly different manner of the Celtic manager since he returned to the club last year, with Lennon cutting a much more even-tempered and even serene figure for the most part than he did during his first spell in the dugout.

The presence of Brown has helped to facilitate that, with Lennon safe in the knowledge that the dressing room is in safe hands with his skipper, and that the rest of his players have a standard-bearer to look towards.

“I speak to Scott all the time about things,” he said. “He is my go-to guy in the squad about a range of subjects. I couldn’t ask for a better captain than him to be honest.

“He tells you how the dressing room his feeling about a certain situation or whatever and you go from there. All the players in the team respect him and he is a huge figure at the club.

“He has a bigger role this time around than in my first spell. He is a few years older and he has won so much in the game. He has led the squad to so much success and he has matured into a great lad and great player, so it is only right I speak to him about things.

“He sets the template at this club for all of the players. In training he still has that great desire to work hard and all the boys take their lead from him as their captain.

“You can’t give him that, or coach that into someone, it is built in him. He wants to keep pushing himself, but also the team on to bigger and better things.

“During this spell of not playing, but even when we have games coming up, if he suspects even the slightest bit of complacency then he nips it in the bud straight away.

“Players listen to him and he is a great role model to the players.”

In a display of the leadership qualities that Lennon references, Brown took to social media yesterday to express his own and the club’s support for their fans during this tough period.

“We know it is worrying and difficult times for everyone, and we want you to know that we are thinking about all of our fans,” Brown said.

“You have supported us brilliantly all season, all of the lads. Everyone at the club is now right behind you. Thank you for everything you have given us.

“Your health is everything, so we want you and your families to do everything you can to stay safe.

“We know this is a really difficult time for so many people that we won’t see you for so long, but we want you to know that we will be back. We will see you soon, and we’re looking forward to it.

“Look after yourselves, look after each other. We’re right behind you. Take care.”