Callum McGregor should have been rested for Celtic-Partick cup clash

By John Reid

September 26, 2019

When examining Neil Lennon’s team selection for the Betfred Cup quarter-final against Partick Thistle, most fans would have been pleased with the team that was picked by the manager.

He did the right thing in blending squad players, with a few first-team regulars starting. Some players didn’t feature at all, with the in-form Ryan Christie not even in the squad.

The team selected by the manager worked out, as the Hoops cruised to a 5-0 victory. However, there was perhaps one puzzling aspect to the team selection – why did Callum McGregor start for the Hoops?

On the face of it, you can understand why the Hoops boss selected McGregor. He is one of his most important players, and has been a mainstay of the Celtic side for many years.

It should also be pointed out that he didn’t complete the game, and was replaced by Scott Brown in the second-half.

Played more football than any other player last season

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

However, if there is ever a player who could do with sitting out cup ties against lower league teams, its McGregor. The Hoops don’t want a repeat of last season, when he played more minutes than any other player in football.

Perhaps there is another reason that he played though. Maybe he won’t start for the Hoops against Hibs on Saturday.

Could be on bench for next league game?

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

That would be a bit of a gamble by Neil Lennon. But Olivier Ntcham is in such good form at the moment, that he can’t be dropped from the team. Similarly, Scott Brown is unlikely to be dropped. That could mean that if a midfielder misses out, it’s McGregor.

He did look jaded at times in the second-half of the recent 3-1 win over Kilmarnock, although that was the case for most of his team-mates during that game.

Perhaps the move makes sense if McGregor doesn’t feature from the start against Hibs. However, it would not be a surprise to see McGregor in from the start at Easter Road.

In the end, McGregor didn’t suffer an injury against Hibs, so there was no harm done. However, it was a bit odd that he started the game when so many others were rested.