RONNY Deila, the Celtic manager, last night expressed hope Scott Brown, his influential captain, will be able to return from a serious knee injury ahead of schedule and strengthen his side's bid to land the Treble.

Brown has been out of action since damaging a ligament in a Premiership game against Kilmarnock at Celtic Park back in November and the Scottish champions have missed his presence in central midfield.

However, Deila was encouraged at the presence of the Scotland internationalist at training at Lennoxtown, where he has resumed running, yesterday and is optimistic he will be available for selection before the middle of next month.

“I saw Broony running out there today, so that’s very positive,” he said. “We always hope and now you can see the end at the tunnel because he’s running. We expected him back in the middle of February. His body heals very quickly and hopefully that will be the case this time.

“I think we have done well without Scott, but everyone knows how important as a player and as a person he is to the club and the group. He is smiling and we are smiling when he is out running. He is like an 18-year-old boy when he runs.

“Hopefully he can progress a little bit quicker than we hoped. Things seem positive, but there is still a little bit to go. We were looking at the middle of February but we will see how he progresses.”

Deila had stated he would be looking to add experienced players to his squad during the January transfer window due to the injuries to Brown and Charlie Mulgrew and stressed he is still hoping to make signings in the next fortnight.

“Of course, we’re not looking at someone who is on the Ballon D’or list,” he said. “It is players who have been important in their teams, that’s what’s important for me.”

Deila looked at Norwegian midfielder Kristoffer Ajer and Romanian right back Andrei Peteleu on trial last week and refused to rule out making moves for them despite both players returning home.

“He (Ajer) did well,” he said. “He’s a talented boy and we knew that. We haven’t made a decision yet. But it was a good week for both of us and we’ll see what happens. But this is not a player who would immediately be a big part of the Celtic first team.

“There is a decision to be made on him (Peteleu) too. He was okay. I didn’t get to see as much of him as I did of Ajer, but we have to compare him to the other options we have here.”

However, Deila dismissed a link with former Stromsgodset midfielder Bersant Celina, the Norwegian Under-21 internationalist who made his debut for Manchester City in their FA Cup game against Norwich City at the weekend. “We’re not looking so much at that type of player,” he said. “We’re thinking of someone more experienced.”

Meanwhile, Deila has told Tom Rogic, the Australian internationalist who has been one of Celtic’s outstanding performers in the 2015/16 campaign, that moving to the Championship in England would be a retrograde move.

Leeds United are believed to have tabled a bid of around £1 million for Rogic, who Celtic are hoping sign an extension to his contract despite him being tied up until 2017, but his manager believes a move to the second tier in England would be a backward step.

“We want to sign a new contract with him and extend his stay here,” he said. “He’s in a good place right now and has played a lot of games this season.

"He has some things that are very hard to get. He has unbelievable technique and is very creative. We need to get more legs in him so that he can run more and then he will be a very good footballer. I don’t think any Championship club is a step up from Celtic.”

Deila expects Anthony Stokes, who is interesting both Hibs and Inverness Caledonian Thistle in Scotland as well as Cardiff City in England, to agree a loan move for the second half of the 2015/16 campaign imminently.

“He has some options and so do we,” he said. “It hasn’t been decided what club, but hopefully that will be very quick. It’s not only his decision. It has to be right for us, but if he doesn’t want to go then it cannot happen. There has to be an agreement.”

Meanwhile, Deila, who has Stuart Armstrong and Dedryck Boyata available for the Premiership match against bottom-placed Dundee United at Tannadice tomorrow evening, has applauded Celtic for identifying and suspending three of the supporters who set off flares and smoke canisters in the Scottish Cup game against Stranraer on Sunday.

“This is something we want to get rid of, it’s not something we want to have on our reputation,” he said. “Having said that there are two points: 98 percent of the fans are fantastic and every club has this problem it’s not only Celtic, but when you have as many fans as we have it’s tough to get it under control.

“But we need to do everything we can to make every stadium and arena that we play at safe for everybody. I think the club’s stance is very important. The consequences have to be there. If not, they will just do it again. So that was a good action I think.”