Celtic: John Collins surprised by Scotland omissions

Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong celebrate with Celtic
Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong have been in form with Celtic

Celtic assistant manager John Collins admits he is surprised to see Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven left out of Gordon Strachan's Scotland squad.

The duo were deadline day signings from Dundee United six weeks ago and have become important players at Parkhead.

"I think they've done very well for us, but their time will come.

"They're young players - I've no doubt they'll get themselves into future Scotland squads," Collins said.

Collins felt that given how well Armstrong and Mackay-Steven have adapted to their new club, they were strong contenders for the squad for the friendly against Northern Ireland and the Euro 2016 qualifier against Gibraltar.

"I am surprised," Collins continued.

"In the six or seven weeks they've been here, their performances on the pitch and out here on the training pitch have been excellent.

"Two good football players, lots of talent, they're only going to get better. Good age, and the way they train - great futures."

Scott Brown endured a tumultuous week after a photograph of the Celtic captain - in which he was apparently drunk - appeared on the front page of a national newspaper ahead of Sunday's Scottish League Cup final.

But the skipper, one of three Celtic players named in Strachan's squad, turned in a typically dogged performance as his side defeated United 2-0 on Sunday to claim the trophy.

"Scott Brown had a fantastic game yesterday - led his team on the pitch, picked up the trophy - magnificent," said Collins.

John Collins and Ronny Deila have seen their Celtic side improve as the season has progressed
John Collins and Ronny Deila have seen their Celtic side improve as the season has progressed

"The manager's spoken to him, but he responded in the right manner and put in a five-star performance on the pitch.

"Scott Brown's all over every blade of grass, every 50-50 tackle he wins, drives his teammates.

"On the pitch he's a great leader."

Collins, 48, helped manager Ronny Deila lift his first trophy as Celtic boss. The Norwegian's reign began with a challenging start to the season, but with the club now on course for a domestic treble, the doubters are growing fewer.

"We were all disappointed at the start of the season," admitted Collins.

"Everybody's worked hard, nobody more than Ronny, and we've got the rewards - first trophy.

"He's looking for performances. Of course you have to get results if you're Celtic manager, but ultimately we want results and we want performances, style of play, scoring goals, entertaining, high tempo, you've heard it 100 times and you're going to keep hearing it because that's what we're after.

"The view will be taken ultimately at the end of the season, but we can see as coaches as every week goes by there's improvement."

Collins had his hands on the League Cup eight years ago as manager of Hibernian, and is relishing his return to SPFL dugouts.

"I'm loving it," said the former midfielder, who enjoyed spells with the Hibees and Celtic, and won 58 Scotland caps.

"It's a busy schedule, lots of demands. But the reward is when you're standing there in the dugout, watching your team control the game, 2-0 up in the final, your supporters' scarves in the air, everybody happy, everybody singing.

"That's the rewards for us as well as the players. That's what gives you energy and that's why you come in every day to train the guys and have those special moments."