The Celtic skipper has sat out the last two matches with Ismaila Soro and David Turnbull coming into the side and taking the opportunity with both hands.
Back-to-back wins over Lille and Kilmarnock have rescued Celtic from a depressing run of form and results but after Sunday’s win over Kilmarnock Neil Lennon mentioned loyalty to the hard-core.
Brown and Ryan Christie sat on the bench on Sunday alongside £4.5m summer signing Vasilis Barkas as Conor Hazard marked his second Celtic appearance with a clean sheet.
There will be a week of speculation over the starting XI to face Hearts but according to Nicholas the selection should be straightforward.
Picking up on his Daily Express column, the Daily Record reports:
I understand Ryan Christie returning but not the skipper. I accept Brown is captain and Callum McGregor does not have his personality, but his legs aren’t there any more.
He no longer has a big influence on the team. In the huge games over the last 18 months – Aberdeen and Hibs away, the Old Firm and Euro ties – it’s been about his nuisance value, not what he does on the ball. His role diminished when Celtic scrapped Brendan Rodgers’ style. He’s a spoiler and that carries little relevance.
He’s still a big personality and he always gives 100% – but Celtic are not going to miss him if he doesn’t play. He remains a figurehead and should lift the cup – if they win but Lenny has to go with players in form, like Turnbull, Soro, Hazard and Moi Elyounoussi.
With Mikey Johnston putting in an appearance against Kilmarnock there will be competition for places on the bench against Hearts with Nir Bitton and Olivier Ntcham missing the last two matches through injury.