CALLUM McGREGOR acknowledges the Celtic players have to accept criticism when it is warranted.

The team’s substandard performance in the 1-1 stalemate in the first leg of the Europa League qualifier against FK Suduva in Lithuania during the week drew some stinging comments from the fans.

Boss Brendan Rodgers, too, couldn’t disguise his frustration at the end after the defence had once again feebly surrendered a crucial goal after Olivier Ntcham’s third-minute opener.

Scotland international midfielder McGregor, preparing for tomorrow’s home league game against Hamilton Accies, said: “You have to take it on the chin.

“We know the goals we’ve conceded lately haven’t been good enough  and, as a professional and a player, you have to take that criticism.

“I’ve always had a good relationship with the players, coaching staff and the manager and you accept criticism when it’s due. That’s how we get better.”

McGregor, 25, added: “In football, your defence is your foundation you build most things on and there’s been a lot of changes with people being injured.

“You want a settled back-four or back-three – whatever the manager chooses to play – and that helps the stability of the team.

“It’s just about getting back to the confidence and taking pride in our defending as a team, pressing from the front and the strikers and midfielders doing our bit, and obviously if it gets to the defenders they can clear it up.

“It’s very much a team effort and the boys are working hard. We’re going back to the pressing drills in training to set the solid foundations so when we go into the games, we feel comfortable.

“We’ve been so successful and when you go through a sticky patch the confidence wavers a bit.

“But there are good players in there and we’ve shown time and time again that we can come back from bad results and tough situations, such as going down to 10 men and winning games.”

The Hoops have failed to keep a clean sheet in their past six games and stats prove AEK Athens only had four efforts on goal over the two legs in the Champions League qualifier – and managed to score three times.

On Thursday, SK Suduva had one attempt worthy of a save and got their leveller.

All eyes will be on the back lot against Accies at Parkhead tomorrow as boss Rodgers again shuffles the back with Kristoffer Ajer the only certainty to start in the central defence.

As McGergor says, it’s all about the team and the fans will be hoping for a reaction against Martin Canning’s men.

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