SCOTT BROWN is not often noted for fading into the background.

Yet, as the individual gongs were handed out last night to those whose star has shone most brightly over the course of the season, Brown's name did not feature on the Scotland PFA shortlist.

While Stefan Johansen has caught the eye of most observers with his elegance and creativity and was a worthy, if expected, winner of the Player of the Year award, Brown, too, has been steadily impressive.

And his was an omission that surprised his manager given the influence the Hoops skipper wields within the walls of Lennoxtown.

While Deila was at pains to be entirely diplomatic in the build-up to last night's award ceremony where he had three of his players up for individual acclaim, he did reveal that, in his opinion, Brown would have been as worthy a winner as anyone.

"For me, he has been the most important player for us this season," said the Celtic manager. "I say that because of his leadership, his experience, his determination, the intensity he brings to everything he does and he is like that on and off the pitch."

While Brown blotted his copybook with his midweek partying in the build-up to Scottish League Cup final in March, Deila believes he remains an example to others within the squad because of his sheer energy and constant thirst for improvement.

Brown was pivotal to the turnaround in results that came after an initially turbulent few months for Deila, acting as the link between the dressing room and the progressive ideas of the new manager - and the Hoops boss was fulsome in his praise of the combative midfielder.

"He is a role model because of his attitude to the game and the way he wants to win, all the time," said Deila. "He has been very important for us, and I could see even at the beginning of the season how big an influence he was because the team missed him badly when he was out.

"I do not often like to talk of individuals because we work very hard as a team and we work hard for one another, but I think he has been very, very important to us."

Jason Denayer was named as SPFA Young Player of the Year last night, another who has caught the eye throughout the campaign.

The 19-year-old will not be hanging around in Glasgow when the season comes to an end later this month.

The teenager has repeatedly stated he will look to fight for his place at Manchester City.

Celtic will leave the door open for him to return should he find regular football will not be forthcoming next season with Manuel Pellegrini's side, and Deila believes the manner in which he has impressed for Celtic this term will have caught the eye of the City boss.

There remain rough edges about the defender - as exposed in the William Hill Scottish cup semi-final - but for a player of his age and experience, Deila believes he has been as good for Celtic as the club has been for him.

"When we brought him here last summer I hoped he would be good enough to play all season - but I have to say that for a 19-year-old he has done more than what we expected of him," explained Deila. "He has been unbelievable - but that is why Manchester City want him back.

"He has been a great player for us this season. He has been honest about wanting to go back, but you never know in football. We will see what happens. He knows what we think of him here.

"It also shows many players that you can come to Celtic, play and improve. If Jason had stayed at Manchester City last year he would never have developed the way he has. You can come to Celtic and become a better player."

And Deila now is determined to ensure the Hoops maintain their progress between now and the end of the season.

There may be an opportunity for some of those such as Emilio Izaguirre - who has played 55 competitive games for the club - and Brown, who has played 50 - to get a little respite.

Deila's main aim is to remain unbeaten between now and the end of the season, although he did reveal he may be prepared to allow some of the club's youngsters to feature.

"It is difficult because although you want to play some of the youngsters and give them the chance to learn in the first-team environment, you also have to win games," he said. "But when there is not so much pressure now it is something we will think about. I do want to win our games. We have three games to go, starting with Aberdeen on Sunday and we don't want to stop the way we are playing.

"We have been scoring a lot of goals, we are pleased with the energy and the tempo and we want to keep that. But it could also be good to allow some young players to step in where there is not so much pressure."