SCOTT BROWN insists even he isn’t guaranteed a starting spot under Neil Lennon despite captaining Celtic for 10 years and lifting 19 trophies along the way.

The Parkhead skipper has been influential in the Glasgow side’s nine in a row run and he is firmly focused on making the historic leap to 10 this upcoming Scottish Premiership campaign.

Brown and the rest of his teammates are preparing to face off against Hamilton on flag day this Sunday and the 35-year-old has told how the battle for places is starting to heat up.

He said: “You are not guaranteed to start in the gaffer’s team no matter who you are. That’s part of what makes us push one another to a different level.

“That’s also why the focus on us winning nine in a row happened, we all pushed each other to boundaries I don’t think we thought possible. We pushed each other to boundaries I don’t think we thought we could but we managed to do so.

“Celtic is a great club with great fans and the stadium is so impressive now, especially with them having done the Celtic Way up as well. We’re always looking to try and maintain a level of professionalism throughout the whole squad, and we’re always looking to put on a good performance at Celtic Park and beyond.

“I’ve said this so many times but the reason I came to Celtic was to win trophies and to play in Europe. I’ve done that. I’ve played against some of the best players in the world. I won the league in my first season here, and to go and lift that first trophy as captain will always be something I’m immensely proud of.

“That was the first of the current nine, and it’s been an incredible achievement to go nine years in-a-row and be so consistent throughout, to maintain that form and that aggressiveness and that never-say-die attitude. The same applies this season.”

Meanwhile, Celtic youngster Stephen Welsh is targeting increased first team game time this season after making his breakthrough at the tail end of the last campaign.

The 20-year-old made his first start under Neil Lennon in February against Hamilton and he was keen to stamp his authority further before the coronavirus crisis curtailed football in Scotland early.

Speaking after Celtic’s trip to France for pre-season, Welsh said: “This was the third pre-season I’ve been on with the first-team and the biggest difference this year has been the level of opposition we’ve played.

 “Usually we’ll play a few local, lower level teams in Austria but this summer we were facing Champions League sides like Lyon and PSG.

“That’s what we need going into this season. They were preparing for Champions League games and cup games so they were around the same stage of preseason as us. I felt we did okay in the games, especially younger boys like myself. I thought everyone handled it really well.

“We’ll learn more in that 60 minutes against opposition like that than we would two or three games against lower opposition teams.”

On his position in the squad, he added: “I feel a lot more comfortable in and around the players because I’ve been involved with the first team for a couple of years now. That time around them means you become familiar with the expectations on and off the pitch. It’s about working hard every day.

“The expectation at the club is absolutely massive. I’ve been here since I was eight-years-old so I’m aware of the standards and the targets which is three points in every game. That’s what it’s all about at a top club like Celtic.”