SCOTT BROWN, the Celtic captain, could play for another year, according to the club’s assistant manager John Kennedy.

The midfielder, who will be 36 in June, is out of contract at the end of this season and the indications in recent months are that his on-field influence is waning, with Ivorian Ismaila Soro emerging to the fore of late. 

Brown retains a strong hold within the Celtic squad and is still regarded as an influential figure at the club. He was back in the starting line-up for last month’s Scottish Cup final win over Hearts with his experience still seen as invaluable to Neil Lennon. 

“Does he have another year in him? I think he might have,” said Kennedy. “It will be Scott’s decision.  

“He’ll know exactly how he feels as the season progresses. With all players at that age, there’s no rush to look six months ahead or even think about it. 

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“Scott’s had a fantastic career and he’ll continue to do so this season and then review it as time goes on. 

“In terms of where he’s at, Scott has never missed a training session, he has been exemplary in the way he looks after himself and his behaviour, and he’s still an important figure for us. 

“Scott has been absolutely outstanding for us. I’ve known and worked with him for a long time. He’s a top class professional and an absolute legend at the club. 

“I’ve spoken to Scott myself and I know he’s spoke to people at the club in terms of beyond the season. 

“But his focus is very much on the here and now. We have a challenge on our hands and he wants to meet it head on. 

“He’ll deal with whatever happened after that. Scott’s not thinking too far ahead.” 

Soro already looks like the natural successor to Brown while David Turnbull, who collected the Player of the Month award for December, has also invigorated the Celtic midfield.

The 22-year-old Soro has brought an aggression and energy with Kennedy delighted at the recent performances of the player.  

“He’s a young player who’s come from a foreign country and it’s taken time to adjust,” he said. “He obviously was without his family and then off for a long time with the Covid situation, so isolation was a struggle. 

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“It’s been good to see him performing. We’d seen bits of it in training but over time we’ve seen his development in some of the bounce games. The time was right for him and he’s taken his opportunity. He’s been a real dynamo in there, he plays simple but effective football and he’s been excellent. 

“He enjoys the defensive side, which is a credit to him as there are a lot of modern players who like the glamour rather than the dirty side of the game. Ismaila loves it. Even in training. He trains exactly the way he plays. If you look at his role in the team, he plays to those strengths and he’s added a good dynamic to the team.”

The manner of Soro’s displays would suggest that Celtic can afford to pick and chose when to use the influence of Brown, rather than an over-reliance on the veteran midfielder. 

“It gives us that option now,” said Kennedy. “Playing 60 games a season is difficult for anyone, but especially at Scott’s age. He wants to do that, because that’s the mentality he has. 

“It gives us the option of changing it around at times. Scott will still be an important character for us, whether it’s in big games or even just around the place. 

“Him and Soro are now battling it out, but credit to Scott, he’s been first class whether he’s been involved in the games or not. He’s still a massive influence around the squad and has a massive part to play.” 

While Soro has been a recent success story, the player has had to wait for his chance after arriving at the club last January.

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Kennedy remains optimistic that the bedding in required for the player to adjust to the cultural demands of a new club can also be kept in mind while assessing Vasilis Barkas, the club’s Greek international goalkeeper.

Barkas has had a fraught start to his Celtic career with Kennedy appealing for time for the 26-year-old former AEK Athens stopper to find form.  

“Barkas came in with a very good reputation and we paid good money for him,” said Kennedy. 

“We believe in him. We’ve seen it before with players coming to Scotland, that first period it can be difficult with the change in culture, change in demands. 

“He was coming in to a season with very intense pressure. We’ve had to manage that, but in terms of his future we certainly one we hope develops in to a top class keeper for us.”