BRENDAN RODGERS preached caution in skipper Callum McGregor’s battle for fitness.

After missing four games, the influential onfield leader made a return to first-team action as a second-half substitute in the 3-3 draw at Ibrox last weekend.

Now all eyes are on the possibility of McGregor continuing his progress in this afternoon’s visit of St Mirren – but the Hoops manager is making no promises.

The Irishman said: “We’re still managing him. He did absolutely incredible to be available for the game because the timeline was beyond Rangers.

IN THE FRAME…Callum McGregor and Brendan Rodgers are caught on camera after the 3-1 win over St Johnstone in Perth in December.

“However, he worked so hard, he wanted to put himself out there and he’d only trained a few days coming into the game.

“This week’s been another good one for him. We just have to manage him, he’s not out of the woods at all, but I saw him training this morning and he looked really good.”

Emphasising McGregor would not be rushed with the champions facing six crucial encounters in the countdown to the title, Rodgers, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “It’s also recognising he’s been out quite a long time.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, if you’ve missed five weeks of training you’re not going to be at your best football fitness-wise, but this week he’s showed up very well.”

Tomoki Iwata has stepped up to accept the challenge of taking over the anchorman role in the engine room of the team and has shown up well.

Tidy, precise and clever, the Japanese international has gone about his job with a laudable professional attitude and hasn’t let anyone down.

Iwata will be ready again for the Saints game if he gets the nod from his manager.

All will be revealed as time ticks down to the 3pm kick-off.

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v St Mirren this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.

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