MALKY Mackay will reward Callum McGregor’s continued excellence for Celtic with his first cap for his country on Thursday night against the Netherlands at Pittodrie.

The interim Scotland head coach was at Parkhead on Tuesday to watch the 24-year-old score a fine equaliser against Bayern Munich in Celtic’s 2-1 Champions League Group B defeat.

The 24-year-old had to play a waiting game for a chance at international level in the Gordon Strachan era but Mackay received a glowing report from Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers and he will not have to wait much longer for his international debut.

“Callum, you can assume, will see a Scotland shirt,” said Mackay. “You talk about improvement in players and I love to see it. There are some on a pathway that is straight up. Some plateau, some go up again and some don’t.

“Callum McGregor probably is the most improved player in Scotland in the last 18 months, probably since Brendan went in there.

“I’ve felt it myself in my career that, when you’ve a manager who believes in you and a manager you can learn from, you surprise yourself at times with your performances. In the last 18 months he has kicked on.

“I’ve asked Brendan what he’s like and what he said was that he can handle big games.”

McGregor’s team-mate Leigh Griffiths, however, won’t be appearing at Pittodrie due to a calf strain.

The 27-year-old came off the bench for Celtic for the last 11 minutes against Bayern but Rodgers said yesterday: “Leigh won’t be in the squad. He had a slight calf injury from our game during the week and had a scan. It’s not overly serious but he’ll probably be a week to 10 days which is unfortunate.”

Darren Fletcher has also withdrawn from the squad.