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CELTIC’S MAGNIFICENT SEVEN; WHY SCOTLAND SHOULD PLAY CALLUM McGREGOR

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SCOTLAND manager Gordon Strachan turned to the Celtic Six to dig him out of a hole and save his job at the weekend.

Stuart Armstrong may have grabbed the headlines after a debut which Strachan described as the best he had ever seen but the other Celts did their bit too.

Leigh Griffiths was unlucky not to give Scotland the lead in the first half and after hitting both the bar and the post in the first half you got the feeling that his next effort would have hit the back of the net.

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A knee in the back from the keeper put paid to that but it was notable how the threat to the Slovenian goal dropped markedly after Griffiths had to go off.

Scott Brown was outstanding in the captain’s role driving Scotland forward and standing up to the hard-man tactics from a side who seemed happy to kick their opponents and hold out for a draw that would have ended Scotland’s campaign and Strachan’s reign as manager.

Kieran Tierney looked like a world class right back. Remarkably the last time he played that position was in an Under 12s match.

James Forrest imposed himself on the game and had probably his best 90 minutes in a Scotland jersey.

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Craig Gordon remained assured and untroubled throughout and the improvements in his distribution was apparent through out.

So if Strachan and his assistant Mark McGhee have good to thank their Celtic Six they could perhaps do worse than consider turning that into a Magnificent Seven for the crucial match against group leaders England at Hampden in June.

That would mean a call up for Callum McGregor, a player so far curiously over-looked by the national team.

Brendan Rodgers hasn’t given Kris Commons a kick of the ball this year. He shipped out Scott Allan to Rotherham and Ryan Christie to Aberdeen.

However McGregor has been a key component in Celtic’s pool of midfielders favoured by Rodgers this season alongside fellow Scots Brown and Armstrong, the Australian Tom Rogic and the Israeli Nir Bitton.

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McGregor runs with the ball perhaps better than any of his aforementioned colleagues at Celtic and against a skillful England side he could help Scotland spring a surprise.

While his Scottish teammates were away with Scotland, Callum McGregor was at Lennoxtown with around 10 other players who weren’t involved in internationals.

After making his 100th appearance for Celtic against Dundee the weekend before last, McGregor spoke to the Celtic View and was full of praise for his manager Brendan Rodgers, and the role he has played in developing the Celtic squad this season.

“It’s been excellent and the manager’s always very detailed in his preparation for the training as well as matches,” McGregor said.

 

“It gives us all a good insight into what’s going on behind the scenes, so that’s been great too.

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“The manager’s always been excellent with me, the coaching staff as well – Chris Davies, John Kennedy and everyone really. It’s been so enjoyable to work with them.

“We need to keep being relentless, and every day coming into training we need to be at our best. It’s the only way you can achieve what we’re achieving. You need to work so hard every single day and give no more and no less, and if you do the right things hopefully that takes to where we want to be.

“The way the season’s gone already, it’s been a very good run. Once you get into touching distance of the kind of achievements that we see ahead of us, it really drives you on to fulfil your ambitions.”

Gordon Strachan should have a good look at Callum McGregor with a view to adding him to his squad to give Scotland the benefit of Celtic’s Magnificent Seven.

*Bobby Evans – Celtic’s Forgotten Hero by Tom Campbell is available now from CQNBookstore.com and Celtic stores.

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