Date: 23rd June 2009 at 10:28am
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Celtic midfielder Scott Brown is likely to be out of action for five weeks after discovering he needs to undergo ankle surgery – meaning he may miss Celtic’s crucial Champions League qualifier first-leg at the end of July.

According to the Scottish Sun, Tony Mowbray has been in contact with Paul Hartley, who is out of contract, and could try and re-sign him in order to secure some midfield cover. However, the move may have come too late as Hartley is thought to be discussing terms with Greek club Iraklis.

Celtic have a packed pre-season schedule and, with Brown and Stephen McManus injured and Shunsuke Nakamura joining Espanyol, Mowbray will certainly have to show he knows how to experiment with his team sheet – which may be no bad thing.

However, the biggest worry will be the Champions League qualifier, to be held on July 28 or 29. With potential signings no doubt watching to see whether Celtic have a chance of making the group stages of the Champions League, Brown’s absence and a much-changed midfield is a real worry.

Hopefully Celtic’s scouts have done their job and Mowbray and chief executive Peter Lawwell have a list of midfielders who could be brought in to provide cover – and perhaps longer-term solutions – for the shortage of players. In any case, Mowbray certainly has to hit the ground running, assuming he has much input over transfers at Parkhead.

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