Callum McGregor, the Celtic midfielder, could be set to toast a double celebration this weekend as he prepares to make his 100th appearance for the club on the weekend in which there is the potential to formally seal the club’s sixth successive title.
Neither occurrence carries much tension with it; both are a simple matter of when rather than if. The chasm that Celtic have established at the top of the table which currently sits at 25 points between themselves and Aberdeen and 33 ahead of Rangers means that should the Pittodrie side lose to Hearts on Saturday that Brendan Rodgers’ side would have the opportunity to claim the title.
McGregor was a second-half replacement for the ineffective Nir Bitton during last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Celtic Park and his pace and energy suggest that he could be in line to hang onto his place for the visit to Paul Hartley’s side. Certainly, the 23-year-old is cautiously optimistic that there will be something to celebrate come Sunday evening.
“It’s a special milestone,” he said. “It’s something I’m especially proud of being a Glasgow boy and coming through the academy. “I heard a few weeks ago I was on 94 so it will be good to clock up the 100 and it would be even more special if I could do it on the same day as winning the league.
“Going on loan was a big help, it really benefited me. I was just young when I went down to England and it taught me a lot. It’s great to come back and then go on to make 100 appearances for the club I joined when I was nine. There is no one really left from my age group. I came through with Dylan McGeouch but apart from us there’s no one really left. It shows how hard it is so obviously I’ve done something right.”
McGregor has made 34 appearances across all competitions this term for Celtic and has been privy to the manner in which Brendan Rodgers preaches a calm relentlessness. The Parkhead side have dropped just four league points from the 84 that have been available this term and while Celtic would be forgiven for looking for a favour from Hearts this afternoon, McGregor has maintained that it will be business as usual, regardless of what goes on at Pittodrie.
“First and foremost we’re looking forward to the game on Sunday, try and win that and get a positive result and we’ll see what happens elsewhere,” said the midfielder. “I know it’s an old cliché but in football that’s what you’ve got to do.
“You need to be prepared for every game.
“That’s why we’re in this position. It would be nice to cross the line, so we’re looking forward to it.
“It would be a great achievement and excellent if we could go and do it. So everyone is looking forward to that. First and foremost we want to go and win the league and if we go and do it in style then great.
“I think we’ll just check the result as it comes in. That’s been a big part of why we’ve been so successful because we’ve just focused on our own stuff and let other teams get on with what they’re doing. We’ll look at the result when we come in and we’ll assess the situation.”
This week has been unusual at Lennoxtown in that there have not been too many weekends in which – just two domestically – in which Celtic have dropped points. The manner in which the Parkhead side allowed Rangers to take a late point on Sunday felt more reminiscent of a defeat rather than a draw, given the huge expectations on Celtic going into the game. For McGregor, though, it is all about what lies ahead in the coming weeks.
“It slightly felt like a set-back in terms of the way Rangers scored late on but, I think, the important thing for us is that it’s another game undefeated and it just continues the run we’ve been on, which has been excellent,” he said. “So I don’t think the boys have been too disheartened this week. We came back in and had a couple of good training sessions and we’re looking forward to Sunday.
“It sharpens the focus again going into the next few weeks and with the semi-final coming up then it really spurs us on to do well in that.
People say it’s a wake up call but there’s not too much truth in that. We drew the game and it was a bit subdued at the end but we are still unbeaten and have a great record. The confidence is still sky high and we need to take that in to every game.”
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