GREG TAYLOR has a Christmas wish for comeback captain Callum McGregor: Please stay fit!
The Celtic midfield orchestrator was forced to miss 11 games after limping off with a knee injury in the Champions League encounter with RB Leipzig in Germany on October 5.
McGregor made his competitive return at the weekend and delivered a stunning performance in the 1-0 triumph over Aberdeen at Pittodrie where he claimed the points-clincher three minutes from the end of the regulation 90 with a crisp left-foot effort from the edge of the box that finally penetrated the red barrier erected by the defensive Dons.
WELCOME BACK, SKIPPER…Callum McGregor celebrates his late winner at Aberdeen with Anthony Ralston, Matt O’Riley and Giorgos Giakoumakis about to join in.
Taylor, who also turned in a superb display as the visitors dominated with a remarkable 89 per cent of possession, applauded his 29-year-old inspirational onfield leader and welcomed him back with unstinting praise.
The left-back said: “It is massive to have the captain back and to get the winning goal and the Man-of-the-Match award on his first game after injury is not a bad return.
“Fair play to Cal, he’s worked ever so hard on his rehab and he’s come back the same way he started the season. It’s not easy to come back after 10 weeks out. A guy like Cal thrives on playing and he regularly plays 50 or 60 games a season.
“You know how hard he would find being on the sidelines and looking on. It’s important to realise the boys who played when he was out put in such a massive shift because Cal is irreplaceable for us
“It was unbelievable from them, but Saturday was about Cal and the team and he was superb. It’s brilliant to have him back. Hopefully, he can stay fit for the rest of the season.”
A BIG HAND…Callum McGregor and Greg Taylor acknowedge another Celtic win.
Ange Postecoglou utilised Matt O’Riley, Aaron Mooy and David Turnbull in the anchorman role in the absence of McGregor and Taylor, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “It’s not just one player who could fill the role that Cal has because he’s so vital to us.
“The whole game goes through him, he breaks up play, he creates chances and scores. It’s such a vital time in the season for him to come back.
”He’s not just a superb player, but he makes everyone around him better and that’s an unbelievable quality for an individual to have in a team game. We had a break and a good strong week in Portugal and that’s probably helped him reintegrate with the group.
“You don’t ever want to be injured, but having that wee break before we came back has probably helped him and he will be the first to say that.”
Scotland international defender Taylor added: “Every game is so important, but you know around this period of time there are so many games and we wanted to put on a strong performance for the fans who travelled up to Aberdeen and cheered us from minute one to 90.
“It was good for them to go home having seen a win.
”If I’m honest, we expected them [Aberdeen] to come out and have more of a go. But every team has their belief on how they can get a result against us so fair play to them.
THE LEADER…Callum McGregor takes to the field for the Champions League match against Real Madrid with keeper Joe Hart and Co following the captain.
“They will probably feel because the game went on so long at 0-0 that they were hard done by. But if we analyse the performance they will realise there was only one team ever going to win the game.
“I don’t know what the possession stats were, but we dominated the ball and the chances. I think it would have been pretty harsh if we had not come away with the three points.”
The champions restored their nine-point advantage at the top of the Premiership with the weekend win in the north east, the same venue where their nearest challengers, under new boss Michael Beale, visit tomorrow night.
Livingston provide the opposition to the Hoops in the east end of Glasgow 24 hours later as Postecoglou’s men will be aiming for a tenth successive league victory.
With Captain Marvel Callum McGregor leading the band, there won’t be a queue of people betting against another three points for the champions.