SCOTTISH FOOTBALL: Celtic's captain Scott Brown is poised to return to the starting line-up against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park tomorrow lunchtime after two weeks of near complete rest.
The combative 27-year-old, who sat out Scotland's two draws in World Cup qualifying with an ongoing hip complaint, is keen to re-enter the fray with Benfica due to come to Parkhead on Wednesday.
Brown, who hopes he can begin full training again in the next two to three weeks, described the loss of Georgios Samaras, who suffered ligament damage to his left elbow while playing for Greece, as "a big blow" to the SPL champions.
Samaras will definitely miss the Champions League tie against the Portuguese giants, though his manager Neil Lennon confirmed that the injury was not as bad as first thought.
Meanwhile, central defender Thomas Rogne has been fined by the club over comments he made concerning a new contract while on international duty.
Press reports in Norway claimed the player had described his current deal as much worse than his teammates, though Lennon says he was misquoted.
St Johnstone, who are bottom of the SPL with just two points from five games, have seen their preparations badly disrupted due to a sickness bug which has swept through the squad in recent days.
Their manager Steve Lomas was forced to cancel training after seven players were struck down with the virus and now expects to be without a clutch of first-team regulars against the champions.
Saints, however, have been quick to quell rumours that they had considered seeking a postponement to the match.
Lomas maintains the Perth side can still recapture the form which propelled them to a top-six SPL finish last term, saying: "if we keep performing like we have done, then we will start picking up wins."
The former Scotland defender Callum Davidson has declared himself fit and Chris Millar comes into contention after recovering from a hamstring problem during a midweek bounce game.