It’s essential for Celtic to get Scott Brown back into the starting XI over the busy festive period.

The Bhoys face eight games in the next 26 days, culminating in a crunch trip to Ibrox.

The skipper has started the last two games on the bench, coming on as a second half substitute both times.

Brown steadied the ship for Celtic at Hampden. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Celtic’s Betfred Cup Final win over Aberdeen was a supreme demonstration of Brown’s value to the team. Replacing Tom Rogic in the second half, Brown steadied the ship in the middle of the park.

He sat in front of the back four as Aberdeen pressed forward looking for an equaliser. His calmness on the ball allowed Celtic to remain nerveless in the latter stages.

It just goes to show that Celtic could not have won any of their seven consecutive trophies without the leadership of Brown.

Brown holds the Betfred Cup aloft with Mikael Lustig. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Aberdeen never really looked like getting an equaliser at Hampden and a lot of that is down to Brown. He broke up numerous attacks late on and was often seen controlling the later stages of the game.

His influence on this team is invaluable. He must find himself back in the starting XI before too long.

It would be unfair on Ryan Christie, Callum McGregor or Tom Rogic to drop out. However, Brendan Rodgers is paid to make the big decisions and so far he’s been vindicated in every one.

Brown and Rodgers embrace at full time. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Games coming thick and fast

Celtic travel to Motherwell on Wednesday looking to reclaim their rightful place at the top of the league.

With a home game against Kilmarnock ahead of the crunch Europa League tie with Salzburg, Rodgers will have Brown’s inclusion at the forefront of his thoughts.

Despite Celtic’s recent domestic form, it’s unthinkable that they travel to Ibrox at the end of the year without Brown. The skipper has been living rent free in the minds of Rangers players for the last few years. His omission would be a huge psychological boost to them, even if he’s on the bench.

Rodgers must use the next 26 days to find a way to include his captain in the engine room of his team.

That may mean dropping Scott Sinclair and moving Callum McGregor a touch wider in midfield. If so, it’s a move worth making to ensure Celtic’s inspirational leader is back in the team.

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