Mark McGhee believes Scott Brown’s return to Gordon Strachan’s line-up is just the boost Scotland need to kick-start their flagging World Cup hopes.
It emerged on Friday that Celtic skipper Brown was considering a shock comeback at Wembley, just two months after announcing his international retirement.
And assistant manager McGhee confirmed that Brown had performed a U-turn on his decision – revealing it was “100%” the midfielder’s decision to return to action for his country.
The former national team captain has been in scintillating form for the Hoops this term, rediscovering his best form under the guidance of new Parkhead boss Brendan Rodgers.
But while Brown, 31, has enjoyed a rampant start to the domestic campaign and a stand-out display in Celtic’s recent Champions League clash with Manchester City, his old Scotland colleagues have not had it so easy.
Strachan’s side have taken just four points from their opening three qualifiers and head south to face England in London next month knowing defeat will realistically kill off any lingering ambitions of making it to Russia in 2018.
However Motherwell boss McGhee – who doubles as Strachan’s number two – feels Brown has just handed Scotland the perfect pick-me-up ahead of facing the ‘Auld Enemy’ on November 11.
Asked if his return would be the boost the team are looking for, McGhee said: “I think it is. It certainly is for me. When Gordon told me, I felt it was a big positive. I was delighted.
“I would imagine that when England look at our team, they would prefer Scott Brown not to be playing.
“We have a better chance of getting a result with ‘Broony’ than without him.”
Brown announced he was hanging up his international boots back in August after deciding to prioritise his Celtic career.
The midfielder looked a shadow of his former self at times last term as he struggled with tendonitis in both hamstrings.
But he has been back to his best this term and McGhee is thrilled by the prospect of him once again donning a dark blue jersey.
He said: “He is arguably the best player in Scotland right now. Certainly he’s the best Scottish player.
“If we have the best players available it will only help us.
“Scott’s a great player. Arguably in the last campaign he was our most significant player.
“I was disappointed when he announced his retirement. He has that character that drives other people, that glues people on the pitch together. He’s a leader.
“My understanding is that it was 100 per cent initiated by Scott. It was him revising his decision really and him thinking he has more to give.
“It looks to me as if he has coped better with the European campaign and the league games and feels good about himself, that he feels like he can do both at this stage.
“We’re seeing a player who is playing very well under a new manager. I would imagine his reinvigoration is down to Brendan rather than missing a couple of international games.
“The manager seems to have given him a fresh lease of life.”
Brown spoke to the media on Thursday ahead of his club side’s top-of-the-table clash with Aberdeen on Saturday.
But he remained coy about his thoughts on Scotland when questioned by reporters.
Asked if he had any regrets ahead of the England game, Brown both sighed and laughed as he said: “I’ll enjoy watching that game. Here’s hoping Scotland do really well down there.
“It will be another great occasion to be fair and I just wish Gordon all the best.”