Scott Brown has insisted that he is willing to carry the can for Celtic’s December defeat to Rangers back in December.

The Celtic captain was back in the middle of the park through what was a frantic month for the Parkhead side but as the year closed with a whimper and an uncharacteristically meek display against Rangers, there were fingers pointed in Brown’s direction.

The claim that the tempo is greater with Brown out of the middle of the park seemed to intensify in the wake of that 1-0 defeat and the three-week gap with no football that followed it allowed it to take root.

In fairness to Brown, Olivier Ntcham struggled badly too at Ibrox – as did the team as a whole – but it is the 33-year-old who is willing to shoulder the weight of the loss.

“I’m happy to take the blame for the last Rangers game,” he said.

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“If they want to hit me with that I’m big enough and ugly enough to deal with it.

“We’ve won a lot of games and set so many records over the past few years.

“Obviously you are eventually going to get beaten in a game. For us, it wasn’t the best performance but we’ll come back stronger from it.

“Since then we’ve gone on a winning run which has been good for us.

“If people want to put the blame on me they can put the blame on me if it eases the pressure for the other lads.”

Celtic have been under more pressure this season in their quest for the league title than have been at any other point since Rodgers’ arrived at the club.

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The see-saw nature of teams playing on a Saturday or Sunday means that there will be tension around the outcome of a game, something that hasn’t always been there at this juncture of a campaign.

The Parkhead side have opened up a six-point gap at the top which allows them some breathing space but Brown is enjoying feeling the heat at the top. James Forrest’s celebration when he broke St Johnstone’s resistance with a 78th minute goal told a story in itself and Brown is relishing the challenge as Celtic push for an eight successive title.

“I’m enjoying it,” said the midfielder. “It’s been good to be fair for us. It shows we need to win games to stay on top. It shows that when the pressure is on the players can deal with it.

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“For everyone if you want to be a winner you want to maintain that standard you set season after season.

“You’ve got to have that wee edge that when someone is coming up and think they can take that title away from you, you just push away again.

“We’ve done it over the years and we need to make sure we do it again this season.

“There’s always a challenge no matter who you play against. There are always young ones coming through who will have a point to prove. They want to be the next best player coming through their club and show they can play against Celtic, Rangers, Hibs, Hearts and others.

“We’ve got 11 great players in that dressing room and on that pitch week in week out. No matter who are we playing and what team plays we believe we can win every game.”

Brown could end his career as one of the most decorated players in the history of the club. He has currently won 17 honours with Celtic - eight league titles, five League Cups and four Scottish Cups. Should Rodgers’ side win the league and Scottish Cup this term, Brown would level up with Jimmy Johnstone in terms of silverware.

“I don’t see myself as a legend here,” he said. “You look at the legends – [John] Clarky, Billy [McNeill], Bertie [Auld], Danny [McGrain]. There are no bigger legends than them.

“For me I’m still a young boy compared with them. I’ve got a lot of learning still to do and a lot of games still to play.

“For me, I just want to push them as much as I possible can.

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“I enjoy playing games and I enjoy winning.”

Brown has played 507 games for Celtic, a stat that makes for impressive reading. With a further two seasons at the club it looks likely that he will eclipse the longevity enjoyed by Paul McStay, Celtic’s last longest serving midfielder.

“It will probably be after I finish playing football that I’ll look at the stats and how many games I played and where I am in the hall of fame and that kind of stuff,” said Brown. “Now, for me, it’s about winning games and pushing this club as far as I can.”

Even when he does call time on the playing side of things, it seems inevitable that there will be a coaching role for Brown at Celtic. At the minute, it is about the here and now.

“Yes, Peter [Lawwell] mentioned that but for me right now it’s about playing,” he said. “I went down the coaching road three years ago when my legs went the first time.

“It was hard to juggle playing with leaving training sharp to go and watch the under 20s play, coaching there and getting back at 1am / 2am.

“Then you are coming back into training. It was too much to keep going. The gaffer was right to tell me to stop doing that and focus on playing football again. For me right now it’s about concentrating on football. Once I do finish we’ll sit down, chat and go through things and see what we can do.”

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