Scotland manager Steve Clarke picks out Celtic star as overlooked gem

By Euan Davidson

December 24, 2021

Scotland manager Steve Clarke has suggested that Celtic captain Callum McGregor doesn’t get the headlines he deserves for his country.

McGregor has had an excellent year for Scotland. Most notably, he scored against Croatia, giving the Tartan Army some brief euphoria during Euro 2020.

He’s had an outstanding 21-22 so far, moving further back in the midfield to help facilitate a quick tempo for Ange Postecoglou. The box-to-box player he always threatened to be, the number 6 spot looks a good fit for the Celtic captain.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Having taken over the armband from Scott Brown, McGregor has upped his game. His efforts certainly haven’t gone unnoticed by Celtic supporters. For Scotland, though, he goes a little under-the-radar at times, attention-wise.

The Hoops captain ended up making 15 appearances for Scotland in a particularly busy year, and was part of an excellent midfield alongside the likes of John McGinn and Billy Gilmour. And Clarke says, while he doesn’t get the attention his performances warrant, he certainly deserves it.

Clarke said [Sky Sports]: “I think in midfield, you look at Callum McGregor.

“He sometimes maybe gets overlooked because Billy gets the headlines, but Callum McGregor’s had a really good year with the international team. He was a standout, him and Ryan Jack, against Serbia.

“Callum has continued on a really good level for the national team. Obviously now he’s captain of Celtic and he’s got that responsibility and the more captains you’ve got on the pitch the better.”

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Celtic captain Callum McGregor deserves more Scotland appreciation; Steve Clarke gets it

We’ve been banging this particular drum for a while. McGregor was left out of Scotland’s midfield in the opening game of Euro 2020 by Steve Clarke, and it cost the Tartan Army. Then, he started against England, pocketing Declan Rice and the rest.

At times, whether it’s partisanship or misinterpretation, Callum McGregor has attracted ire from members of the Tartan Army. That’s despite regularly being a solid contributor throughout his 41 caps, and being good enough for the Celtic captaincy.

Clarke’s right; having multiple leaders on the pitch is a good thing. Andy Robertson is Scotland captain, but it’s not hard to imagine McGregor wearing the armband in his absence at some stage. See also former Celt Kieran Tierney, who’s a popular choice for a captaincy role at Arsenal.

Photo by Paul Ellis – Pool/Getty Images

A cultured midfielder, it’d be interesting to see whether his positional shift at Celtic is influencing Clarke’s thoughts at all. With the midfield talent Scotland have, McGregor running the show behind John McGinn and Billy Gilmour sounds like quite good fun to me.

It’s been a successful year for club and country where Callum McGregor’s concerned.

You wouldn’t bet against him getting even better in 2022.

Read more: Callum McGregor admits Celtic dressing room are talking about the issue deeply frustrating supporters