CELTIC legend Davie Hay is backing Callum McGregor to become a Hoops great – if he continues to make progress.

The former manager and player has been massively impressed by the Scotland international playmaker in recent times and believes the sky is the limit for a player of his quality.

McGregor has displayed ability and maturity to switch places in the champions’ midfield with Scott Brown struck down by a hamstring injury in the 4-2 victory over Hibs at Parkhead on October 20.

The skipper has since made his comeback, of course, but the 25-year-old Glaswegian took over his anchorman role with astonishing ease.

Hay said: “The five year contract extension that Callum McGregor has signed is richly deserved. It is also a great bit of business by Celtic.

“It wasn’t that long ago that he was loaned out to English League One club Notts County. But that aided his development.

ON THE BALL…the versatile Callum McGregor.

“He has come on leaps and bounds under Brendan Rodgers in the last couple of seasons.

“Callum has firmly established himself as a first-choice player in midfield in the past five months.

“I think the big difference in him is that he is a lot fitter than he was before. That helps him play to a certain level and intensity.

“It is all very well having natural talent, but if you can’t play with the necessary intensity then you won’t push on.

“The level of fitness he now has, allied to the ability he has got, has made him the top player he has become.

“He passes the ball superbly, reads the game well and has an eye for goal. I imagine he must be one of the first names down on the team sheet every week.”

Hay, now a club ambassador, added: “If Callum carries on the way he is going, he will become a great Celtic player.

“He would be a strong contender to succeed Scott Brown as captain when the midfielder moves on or retires.

“Kieran Tierney, of course, may have something to say about that!”

McGregor was in Brown’s place in the 3-0 victory over Dundee at Parkhead on Saturday and the manager now has a big decision to make about his role in the team with the games against Aberdeen at Pittodrie due on Boxing Day and the visit to Ibrox three days later.

The Hoops have two crucial encounters to meet and overcome before their well-deserved winter break in Dubai.

McGregor is ready to play his part – but in which position will be down to Brendan Rodgers.

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