TONY Mowbray says it was important for international pair Charlie Mulgrew and Corry Evans to miss the club’s pre-season training camp in Austria.

The duo’s final games of last season came only a few weeks ago.

Evans played in Northern Ireland’s 1-0 win in Belarus on June 11 while Charlie Mulgrew played twice last month.

Scotland beat Cyprus 2-1 on June 8 and then lost 3-0 to Belgium three days later, a game which saw the defender captain his country.

As a result the pair were allowed extra time off compared to the rest of the squad.

“They needed a mental break from the intensity of it all,” said Mowbray.

“They played football up until only a few weeks ago so it was important they were away from this environment where it can be pretty intense.

“You’re training two or three times a day and are all around the hotel together.

“They’ve had some down time.”

Stewart Downing will join up with the squad on Monday having been excused the Austria camp due to a pre-arranged personal commitment.

He will in theory be a few days behind the rest of the squad but Mowbray has no concerns about how the 34-year-old will hit the ground running.

“He’s a very professional lad who has played right at the top level,” the boss said.

“He’s played for his national team 30-odd times.

“He looked very lean and fit the day he was sitting hin my home and discussing football with me.

“I’ve got no fears about his fitness.”