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CALMAC’S 72-MINUTE BREATHER

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CALLUM McGREGOR was given a 72-minute breather before being called into action in Scotland’s 1-0 UEFA Nations League win over Slovakia at Hampden this evening.

The Celtic midfielder didn’t start the crucial encounter with boss Steve Clarke giving him a break after a punishing run of games for club and country this season.

The international boss acknowledged: “Callum has played a lot of minutes in this campaign, so he will be on the bench at the start.”

However, the Hoops ace was given the nod to come on midway through the second-half as a replacement for John Fleck with the Scots already leading with a 54th-minute goal from Lyndon Dykes.

The former Livingston striker, who joined Queens Park Rangers in a £2million switch in the summer, timed his run forward to perfection after Ryan Fraser and Stephen O’Donnell combined on the right. The Motherwell defender swung in an inviting cross and the powerhouse frontman claimed the game’s solitary strike with a left-foot drive from six yards.

Oli McBurnie, on as a sub for Dykes at the same time McGregor entered the action, came close to doubling the advantage, but was out of luck when his thundering header smacked off the top of the crossbar in the 79th minute after a fine left-wing delivery from Fraser.

Scotland are top of their group with seven points from three games, one ahead of the Czech Republic who overcame Israel 2-1 this evening. The nations meet at Hampden on Wednesday night.

And then McGregor can look forward to the visit of Steven Gerrard and his Ibrox squad to Parkhead on Saturday for the 12.30pm Premiership showdown.

 
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