CALLUM McGregor has hailed his former Celtic team mate Jonny Hayes for agreeing to play for Aberdeen for free next season and admitted the Scottish champions will need to be on their guard when they face the winger next season.

Hayes left Parkhead after helping the Glasgow club to win their last three Premiership titles when his contract expired at the end of last month and has since returned to Pittodrie.

The Republic of Ireland internationalist, who has signed a two year deal with the Dons, has agreed to defer his wages for a year because of the impact of the coronavirus crisis. 

Scotland midfielder McGregor is unsurprised that the versatile player has found himself another club and that he is prepared to play for nothing for Derek McInnes's men in the 2020/21 campaign.

“He’s a great character who was well liked about the place," he said. "Jonny is so reliable, you could hang your hat on him, which is exactly what you want in a teammate.

“It was brilliant to see him get sorted so quickly. I thought he would as he’s a top player, but there’s so much uncertainty right now.

“It’s great for him to get his future sorted so soon and everyone at Celtic wishes him all the best.

“It’s an amazing gesture from Jonny Hayes (playing for free). It just shows he’s desperate to play football and is back at a club he has an affinity with.

“It’s great that it’s worked out. It maybe needed that kind of gesture to get it over a line and it speaks volumes about his character.”

Aberdeen were Celtic's nearest challengers when Hayes played for them before and McGregor believes the north-east club will benefit from his return. 

He added: “We’ll need to keep tabs on him when we play Aberdeen. Training with him every day for three years, we know what he can bring to the table.

“We wish him all the best for the season, but when we come up against him we’ll be hoping he has an off day."