RONNY Deila will attempt to strengthen his Celtic squad with experienced players during the January transfer window after Scott Brown was ruled out for up to three months with ligament damage.

Deila revealed that Brown, his influential captain and central midfielder, would be sidelined for between eight and 12 weeks yesterday as he looked ahead to the Europa League meeting with Ajax.

The Scotland internationalist limped off towards the end of the Parkhead club’s Ladbrokes Premiership match against Kilmarnock on Saturday.

A scan has since revealed the injury he suffered, which Celtic medical staff are hoping will not require surgery, was worse than first feared.

The loss of the player is a huge blow to Deila ahead of a Group A meeting with Ajax this evening which his side must win to keep alive their hopes of reaching the last 32 of the Europa League.

He will also be without Kris Commons, who will be unavailable due to illness and injury, and Nir Bitton and Stefan Johansen, who are both suspended, for the game against the Eredivisie leaders.

The extended absence of Brown could also impact on their bid to win a fifth consecutive Scottish title and land the League Cup and Scottish Cup during the 2015/16 campaign.

The Celtic transfer policy has been to target promising young players at affordable prices who can be developed and sold on for a profit.

However, Deila admitted that he will now look to bring in senior players to bolster his squad and compensate for the loss of key individuals at the start of next year.

“I think it is very important now in January that we look for players who have experience,” he said. “We have a lot of talent, but you need leaders, or parents to the players, to get them to grow.

“I would rather have one or two players that can stretch the level and have experience than have five youngsters who are talented players because you can’t get through all the ties.

“Ryan Christie is coming, Scott Allan, (Callum) McGregor, (Aiden) Nesbitt; you need leaders around these young boys to get the best of out of them.”

Deila continued: “We know what kind of budget we have. It is possible. We have to look at players who are important in their teams and are not in the biggest leagues.

“You don’t get a guy from the Premier League who is playing week in, week out. We get players who are in their way not good enough for that level, but who are straight under and want to have a different challenge.”

Deila expressed sympathy for Brown, but insisted that Celtic could overcome Ajax and progress to the knockout rounds of the Europa League for the second season running.

“It is just very unlucky,” he said. “I am very unhappy for Broonie. He wanted to play. He was back and was in good shape. But also for ourselves it is a blow.

“But it is nothing to be sad about. You just have to keep on working. There are a lot of players who have worked hard all season who will get a new chance now.”

“There will have to be players who go into roles that they are not so very used to playing in. But we have Scott Allan, Stuart Armstrong, Callum McGregor, who can play centrally in the pitch. We are going to fill the gaps.

“It is going to be a young team, there’s no doubt about that. But it is a young team Ajax have as well. So it is a quite similar situation for the two teams.

“Scott has a lot of experience and is important for the team. But this gives people the possibility to step up and become that leader we are talking about.”

Anthony Stokes, the Republic of Ireland internationalist who has not featured in the Celtic first team since a win over Dundee United back in August, could be brought back. “He is available,” said Deila. “He is in our thoughts and he is in the squad.”