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McGregor glad of Dutch distraction

CALLUM McGREGOR spent a season on loan at Notts County in the hope it would improve his chances of making the Celtic squad next season.

The departure of manager Neil Lennon, however, has left him in limbo. Lennon was a positive force in McGregor's life, keeping close tabs on the 20-year-old's spell at the League 1 club as well as making encouraging noises about his prospects of joining the first team upon his return for pre-season training.

Lennon's decision to walk away from Celtic, therefore, has left McGregor wondering just what will happen next. His immediate focus is this evening's Scotland under-21 match against the Netherlands at St Mirren Park, after which he will await news of Lennon's successor and what it might mean for his career.

"I'll report back for pre-season training and try to impress the new manager," said the midfielder. "Neil Lennon leaving makes it difficult to plan ahead but I'll be trying to work as hard as I can after coming off a good season. I spoke to Neil while I was out on loan and had a meeting with him when I came back for a few days in January.

"Everything seemed positive. He just wanted me to continue playing and said he would give me the chance pre-season to show how much I've developed. So there is disappointment that he now won't be there but it's a fresh start for everybody and I think I've improved quite a lot."

McGregor's loan spell was something of a mixed bag. After featuring prominently in the early matches, the appointment of Shaun Derry as manager and his adoption of a new tactical approach meant he was used less frequently as County scrapped against relegation.

"The first half of the season was good and I really enjoyed it," he added. "Then the new manager came to the club and there was a change - he wanted us to be more direct. We were in a tough place at the time and his job was to keep us in the division. He's done well since he came in and you can't really argue with that but, overall, I still think it was a good season for me.

"I played 40-odd games for County. I had the option to come back up here in January but felt it would be more beneficial for me to play more regularly. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out quite like that but I have no regrets."

McGregor will round off an eventful season against the undefeated Dutch, knowing only a victory will be good enough if Scotland are to have any chance of making next summer's European Championship finals.

"We need to win our last three games and that's a tough ask but we've got to fancy ourselves," he added. "We watched a DVD of the 4-0 defeat in Holland and we all agreed it wasn't a 4-0 game. For large parts of that game we held our own but we lost goals at crucial times. However, we'll be looking to put on a similar performance - only this time we'll need to take our chances.

"It's great for us coming up against teams like Holland and Slovakia - it's like the elite playing against the elite. These players provide you with different challenges and that's good. But I'm confident we can beat the Dutch."

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