For a while, Celtic burned the candle at both ends: reaching both domestic finals, and navigating four European qualification rounds, six group stage games, then a knock out round. Callum McGregor was always first choice while simultaneously fulfilling international duties.
To add insult to lack of injury, he was never injured, resulting in the accolade of him playing more football than anyone else in the world. This was an achievement, but an unsustainable one which would inevitably blunt his effectiveness.
Callum’s season ended last night, 50 weeks after he started preseason training. This time, there was an injury, resulting in him missing 12 games, although he still managed to appear in 53. Last week the Celtic captain turned 30. If we are to get the most from the remaining years of Callum’s career, this landmark should be recognised as a watershed, where business as usual cannot be allowed to continue.
Fortunately, we have no European qualifiers this summer, but Callum can now expect to compete in Euro 2024, which starts on 14 June, his 31st birthday, just three weeks after the Scottish Cup Final. He may play wall-to-wall football for the next two years of his life. What chance his body will remain fit and sharp throughout, 10%?
There are few enough benefits of competing in a weaker league, so for the sake of our senior players, we have to make the most of them. Callum should be rested wherever possible during the coming season. This may be disrespectful to opponents, but if we cannot resource a trip to the likes of Dingwall without him, we have bigger problems.