Thursday 22 March 2018

McGregor's joy at leading out Celts

Bhoys leader: Celtic captain Callum McGregor is pictured in action against St Johnstone’s Blair Alston at Celtic Park last Sunday
Bhoys leader: Celtic captain Callum McGregor is pictured in action against St Johnstone’s Blair Alston at Celtic Park last Sunday

Stand-in Celtic skipper Callum McGregor admits he fulfilled a lifetime ambition by leading out the Hoops.

However, the midfielder confessed his team failed to reach their potential as they were held to a goalless draw by St Johnstone on Sunday.

Boss Brendan Rodgers made seven changes to the side which beat Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday, with McGregor taking over the armband from rested captain Scott Brown.

But while the Scotland international was beaming with pride at having been bestowed that honour, he could not hide his disappointment after failing to take the three points from Saints. "It was a proud moment and something I've been working so hard for since I was eight years old," McGregor said.

"To come through and captain the side on a day like this was a proud moment but we know we can play a lot better than that.

"We didn't really create anything other than a few half chances. We've got to do better.

"St Johnstone came and made it difficult for us but we've got to find a way of playing round that and get some momentum going in the game."

Among those handed the chance to impress was right-back Cristian Gamboa. The Costa Rica international denied his lengthy stint on the sidelines was the reason for the Hoops' lacklustre showing against Tommy Wright's men.

"It's not difficult because we train well and all the guys are ready to play," he said. "We have 25 players here just waiting for the chance to play.

"It was a difficult game for us. The gaffer made a lot of changes after the game with Zenit.

"He rested a couple of guys and gave opportunities to guys like me. But it was difficult.

"We've been on the sidelines for a while so it is good to get 90 minutes under the belt.

"I'm happy we didn't lose as it was tricky. The pitch wasn't in the best of conditions but I'm proud for the group because we always try to win the match."

Rodgers, meanwhile, expressed amazement about McGregor's solitary Scotland cap.

The Northern Irishman said: "He's been absolutely brilliant for me and if you look at his goal during the week and if that's a Spanish, Italian or Argentinian player then everyone would be lauding the quality of the goal, his touch and technique. He's a fantastic talent in terms of how he takes the ball and how he has only one cap for Scotland is amazing.

"Someone of that technique and tactical idea of the game, he is absolutely brilliant."

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