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Callum McGregor likely to return to Scotland side only three days before derby

John Reid October 14, 2020
Celtic's Callum McGregor in action for Scotland
Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

Celtic’s Callum McGregor was on the bench for Scotland’s last Europa League fixture against Slovakia on Sunday.

He only played the last 18 minutes of the match, replacing John Fleck in the 72nd minute of Scotland’s 1-0 win.

That would have been good news for Celtic boss Neil Lennon. He must have been concerned that McGregor would have played 270 minutes of football for Scotland before returning to Celtic.

However, you would imagine that McGregor will return to Scotland’s starting line-up for Wednesday’s game against the Czech Republic.

Game is vital for Scotland

It is a vital game for Scotland in the battle to win their Nations League group. A win for Steve Clarke’s side would move Scotland four points of their opponents with only two games remaining.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

Therefore, you would expect the Scotland manager to pick his strongest available team for the game. That will likely include McGregor in the middle of the park.

That means McGregor has a real chance of playing 90 minutes less than three days before he lines-up for Celtic in the first Glasgow derby of the season.

Nervous watch for manager and fans

That means a nervous watch for Celtic boss Neil Lennon and the club’s support ahead of the Glasgow derby.

It will be a real blow for Celtic if McGregor picks up an injury during the game, and as a result has to miss the Glasgow derby. In a normal situation Celtic could probably cope with the loss of McGregor.

Photo by Lukas Kabon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

However, the club are already missing three players – Nir Bitton, Hatem Elhamed and Ryan Christie – due to the Covid-19 virus. There is also a doubt over Odsonne Edouard’s participation due to the fact that he is currently self-isolating in France. He is due to return to Scotland on Friday.

The last thing that Celtic need is another player ruled out of the game. Neil Lennon will be hoping that McGregor plays around 60 minutes, is replaced and can then concentrate on getting ready for the derby.

Up until then though, Neil Lennon will be crossing his fingers to make sure McGregor gets through the game. If he ends up ruled out then it will start to look like a real injury crisis for Celtic.

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John Reid is an experienced journalist, specialising in Scottish football for a number of years.