CALLUM McGREGOR will switch duties from country to club with his usual effortless ease when he leads out Celtic against Ross County in Dingwall on Sunday.

The Hoops captain has just performed at a 52,000 sell-out Hampden in the Euro 24 successes over Cyprus and Spain with Scotland claiming two crucial victories as they eye a place in next summer’s Finals in Germany.

McGregor will swap international frenzy for the the more sedate surroundings of the 6,541-capacity Global Energy Stadium against Malky Mackay’s Highlanders with the champions currently nine points ahead with nine league games to be played.

The settings may be dramatically different, but the 29-year-old midfielder’s ambition remains the same – a win and three points.

HAMPDEN HURRAHS…Callum McGregor and Greg Taylor celebrate the League Cup success at Hampden last month and (below) the Celtic and Scotland midfielder congratulates Scott McTominay after his second goal against Spain on Tuesday.

McGregor prepared for the rigours of the Highland challenge by playing his part in the international combat zone where he has fitted in perfectly to Steve Clarke’s plans.

The Glaswegian manned the fort while Scott McTominay was allowed to thrust into attacking positions to claim doubles against the Cypriots and Spaniards.

The Parkhead stalwart said: “The structure of the team probably allows one of the midfielders to go, the other one to sit and be secure with the three. Obviously, Scotty has got great athleticism, he can get forward, he can join in, and he has shown the quality as well to go and finish.

“He’s a brilliant weapon to have for any team, and especially for us to try to utilise that as we can. You have to be able to score goals in your team to be successful at this level and if you can spread them around, then you’re not relying on strikers or wingers.

“You need goals in your team to win matches and to qualify for tournaments, so it’s brilliant for Scotty and what a night for him individually. But it was a brilliant night for us as a group and obviously for the supporters, as well.”

McGregor, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “You need everybody to function properly within the team or else the team doesn’t function. There’s 11 of us for a reason and the manager wants everybody to play their part.

“The defensive side of the game is just as important as the attacking side, and vice-versa. When it all comes together, as it did on Tuesday night, then brilliant.”

Asked if he’d thought of charging forward and leaving McTominay to sit in, McGregor answered with a smile: “Not when he’s scoring two goals every game!”

FOLLOW THE LEADER…Callum McGregor is preparing to play his usual key role against Ross County on Sunday.

McGregor, who picked up his 51st cap in the 2-0 win over Juis de la Fuente’s side, added: “If you want to be successful then you need four, five or six leaders in your team, not just one or two.

“It’s good that we’ve got that mix. We’ve got big Granty [Hanley], Kieran [Tierney] is a leader, you’ve got guys right through who are big leaders and big personalities, as well.

“On nights like that, you need five or six of those in your team to drag you over the line in the moments where you have to defend.

“There was probably a five or six-minute spell just before the end of the first-half where we were under the cosh a little bit and that’s the moment when you need the big players with the personalities to stand up and ride you through it.

“I thought we did that excellently, as well.”

Now it’s the Ross County players who are charged with the unenviable task of knocking McGregor out of his stride in Dingwall in the High Noon showdown.

Don’t bet on them succeeding.


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