Celtic stars stake Scotland claim in Fenerbahce draw

By Alasdair LamontBBC Scotland
Leigh Griffiths celebrates after scoring for Celtic against Fenerbahce
Leigh Griffiths scored Celtic's opener against Fenerbahce

Celtic may not have earned the victory they desired against Fenerbahce but their overall performance versus the Turks was an impressive one.

What was particularly striking about the more positive aspects of their display in the 2-2 draw was that they emanated from the Scottish core of Ronny Deila's side.

Six of the starting line-up were Scots, four of whom are in Gordon Strachan's squad for the upcoming double-header against Poland and Gibraltar.

A similar level of performance from Scott Brown and his team-mates would be most welcome against the Poles on Thursday.

Captain fantastic

Brown, captain of club and country, has come in for criticism in recent weeks for a perceived lack of fitness and poor form as both Celtic and Scotland lost crucial games.

Celtic captain Scott Brown
Brown was at the heart of much of Celtic's best play against Fenerbahce

But, on Thursday, he turned in arguably his best display of the season, stamping his authority on the match in a manner that had previously been absent.

The midfielder has been handed the armband by successive Celtic managers as well as Strachan for good reason.

"Scott Brown was fantastic in the midfield, worked really hard and kept the team together," said Deila.

"He sacrifices himself so much for the team. Sometimes he may need to rest but he wants to play because he knows he is important for the team.

"Maybe he has pain but he goes through it and if everyone is like that, we have a strong mentality in the club."

Run Forrest run

Inconsistency seems to be an inherent trait of wingers and James Forrest is no exception, but against Fenerbahce he showed the best of his abilities.

Leigh Griffiths, Kris Commons and James Forrest
Forrest (far right) set up a goal for Commons (centre0

His willingness to commit defenders is a joy to behold and at times this season - against Malmo at home and away to Kilmarnock for example - he has looked free of the shackles of injury and all the better for it.

Strachan is certainly a fan but Forrest has yet to reward the national manager and supporters with the type of performance he turned in on Thursday.

Sticking with the winger stereotype, he is a 'confidence player' but armed with the right supply of possession, there is every reason to believe he could be an important figure for Scotland as they seek to keep their hopes of Euro 2016 qualification alive next week.

Striking poser

Leigh Griffiths continues to impress and is unquestionably Celtic's first-choice striker, despite the interest in adding Carlton Cole to the squad.

Leigh Griffiths scores for Celtic against Fenerbahce
Griffiths has scored in three of Celtic's European matches so far this season

His 11th goal of the season maintains an impressive strike-rate but there remains plenty of doubt as to whether he has convinced Strachan to start him against Poland.

Steven Fletcher, who has just one goal to his name this term, arguably offers more to the team with his hold-up play while Steven Naismith also has his backers in the joust for the lone striker's role.

"I don't know too much about the other Scotland strikers," admitted Deila when asked whether Griffiths deserved a start against Poland. "But I do know he scores goals in almost every game. He's on fire."

It's one of a number of quandaries facing Strachan over the coming days.

Gordon still in the mix

Less of a headache perhaps is the issue of who to play in goal, with Cardiff City's David Marshall the man in possession of the jersey.

There is little doubt that Strachan would happily place his trust in Celtic's Craig Gordon were he required, with the keeper's shot-stopping as good as ever.

Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon
Gordon has won over 40 Scotland caps

But question marks have arisen over his part in the concession of so many goals from set pieces. Celtic's defensive frailties have been well documented and Gordon has certainly been to blame on more than one occasion for failing to take command of balls into the box.

Nonetheless, he was not at fault for either of Fenerbahce's goals and has proved himself to be a match-winner time and again for Celtic, especially in Europe. He will surely have a role to play for Scotland again in the future.

It is too early to say whether the same is true of Kieran Tierney, but the young left-back has acquitted himself well thus far in his fledgling career.

Deputising for Emilio Izaguirre against high-quality opposition in the Europa League and preferred to Tyler Blackett, the 18-year-old could benefit from Deila's continuing uncertainty over the merits of his more experienced full-backs.

Deila has clearly also had reservations over Kris Commons but the forward has shown in recent weeks just what he can offer to Celtic.

Those talents are, however, no longer available to Strachan, with Commons having retired from the international set-up some time ago.

Strachan could do with the kind of craft and guile Commons can provide when it comes to unlocking the Polish defence at Hampden.