Celtic star Callum McGregor has been a shining light this term; now it's time for a break

By Euan Davidson

February 18, 2021

Celtic co-captain and midfield stalwart Callum McGregor is the definition of ever-present.

Would it surprise you to learn that CalMac has played 90 minutes in all but 7 of all Celtic’s fixtures this season? Well, unless my maths is off, that’s very much the case [WhoScored?]. In the Premiership alone, the midfielder has played 2,588 minutes of football since the league began.

That’s ridiculous. The Scotland international’s durability is just so far beyond reproach. He is made of far tougher stuff than your average football writer, that’s for sure.

But with fixture build-up leading to twice-weekly matches, is it time to give the committed Hoops hero a rest? And, can we afford to?

Frank McAvennie had his say [via Football Insider] and honestly, it’s hard to disagree with him on this one. The former Bhoys and West Ham United striker said:

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“I would like Lenny to leave McGregor out.

“He’s a big player, the captain in a lot of games but he has barely missed a game in years. I wanted to play all of the time but I am now on the outside looking in now. It would not do him any harm to miss a game or two.

“He has played every game for years, Scotland included. You want him ready for the Euros. He might just need an extra charge.

“It is not a reflection on how he is playing, I just think he has lost a wee bit of sharpness. That is not down to ability, it is just because he has played so many minutes. It’s understandable.”

Callum McGregor and Neil Lennon / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Celtic stalwart Callum McGregor is so vital to Lennon

McGregor gets his criticism sometimes, and honestly, it’s hard to fathom. By any metric, he is one of our most effective and reliable players, and it’s a sin that he’s not more widely acclaimed.

Against Aberdeen, for example, McGregor was everywhere, up and down the pitch. He comfortably led Celtic in terms of touches and passes, in another game where nearly everything went through him.

But what does a Celtic team look like without him? Well, if Lenny plays it smart, he may opt to use one of Ewan Henderson or Luca Connell. The Irish youngster hasn’t had a real opportunity for the Bhoys in a competitive match, so Lennon could benefit from a rested McGregor and a hungry talent who has trained with the first-team.

A potentially tricky trip to Dingwall, bizarrely scheduled for a Sunday night, might be a good chance to rest CalMac. That’s a very long trip, and with the miles on his legs, it may not need to be a game he needs to play.

As ever, it’ll be interesting to see what Lennon does next.

ELSEWHERE: Who has been compared to Paul McStay and Tommy Burns this week?