CALLUM McGregor, through his accomplished displays of late as a deep-lying midfielder, may have been quietly making his case to be considered the successor to Scott Brown for both club and country, but there is no way he will be putting his argument directly to his captain. The 25-year-old knows better than that.

And yet, there is no denying that McGregor’s excellence has softened the blow of Brown’s absence through injury this past five weeks to such an extent that there is a genuine debate over whether or not the Celtic skipper will be able to work his way back into the side.

It seems that he will have to wait a while at least, with manager Brendan Rodgers lukewarm last night about Brown’s chances of making the starting 11 for the match against Rosenborg, but McGregor expects that in the fullness of time, he will be making way for a man he has huge respect for, and who he feels can still make a massive contribution to the Celtic cause.

“I think he would just smash me in training if I said that [I’m taking his place],” laughed McGregor. “That would be me finished.”

“Of course I expect Broony to come back in. He’s been a massive player for us, and he has been for a number of years for Celtic.

“You can see how important he has been since the gaffer came in, he seems to be that real base for the team to allow us to come and play.

“When he comes back you fully expect him to go back in and have the same impact that he’s had for eight or nine years at Celtic.

“For people to even mention that [I might keep him out the team] after just five or six games in there, you’ve got to take that as a compliment.

“For me, I just need to try to take the confidence from that to keep playing well, so that even when Broony does come back in, you keep that same confidence level to go and kick on again.”

Given the free-flowing attacking guile that Celtic have exhibited - scoring 18 goals in six matches - in Brown’s absence, might it be unfair though if he walks back into a midfield that is working so fluidly?

“It’s a fair point,” conceded McGregor. “The team has been doing well, scoring a lot of goals and playing good football. Whatever the manager decides to do, that’s completely up to him.

“When Broony comes back in, hopefully I’ll just slide forward one again and that will be great.

“We all know now that the squad is so important. In the last two and a half years the manager has been big on everyone in the squad playing a part, and I think that’s why we’ve been so successful.

“It’s not a case of not being in one week and that’s you out, and you aren’t getting back in.

“That’s been the real strength of the group, we have so many players fighting for positions, and ultimately that drives the standard up.

“With Ryan [Christie] coming in and doing so well, that has added to that mix of five midfield players that could all play.

“With everybody back and everybody on form, it’s a good headache for the manager.

“The gaffer has been great with me in terms of putting me in different positions and trusting me in there. I’ve enjoyed it and we’ve been playing some lovely stuff in terms of getting the ball quickly and letting the front boys go and do their stuff with me at the base of it.

“It’s just another position I can play.”