One of the main flashpoints of yesterday’s win at Kilmarnock was the red card to Scott Brown.
The Celtic captain didn’t exactly go into the fans, but instead, the supporters came rushing onto the pitch to celebrate with him. That was enough for Bobby Madden to flash a red and send the Hoops leader packing.
It’s easy to look at that sending off and be a tad concerned. But, in reality, all it does is provide Callum McGregor with the chance to go back into the position he impressed in before the turn of the year.
When Brown was out for around a month at the tail-end of 2018, it was McGregor who stepped up. His tenacity in the tackle, as well as his ability to make killer passes seen him run the show.
Whilst Brown’s absence means McGregor will have to do more on the defensive side, he’s proven so capable of it in the past. This even led to suggestions that he could be the perfect replacement for Brown when he retires.
One particular match in which McGregor thrived was against Leipzig at Parkhead. With Celtic needing someone to cut off the supply to Jean-Kevin Augustin, McGregor’s energy played a huge part. Granted, Ryan Christie also tracked back on plenty of occasions. McGregor, however, made sure the likes of Kevin Kampl and Marcel Sabitzer had no time to think.
McGregor’s energy levels show he can do Brown’s job
McGregor has the legs to be box-to-box. He’s shown in the past he can cope with the defensive side of the game. His performance at left-back at Ibrox was the only saving grace from that horrific afternoon.
Brown has, of course, only recently signed a new two-year contract. He still has eyes on 10-in-a-row for certain. But this short one-game suspension gives McGregor the chance to continue his preparation on being Brown’s long-term replacement.
Don’t expect McGregor to be as attack-minded when Motherwell come calling at Parkhead on Sunday. The Hoops playmaker will be making sure the likes of David Turnbull and Allan Campbell can’t get at the back-four.
It will be interesting to see how McGregor fares in this position once more. But one thing’s for sure, he certainly impressed in the same area during Brown’s absence last year.
So whilst the Celtic captain will sit out for one match, it’s no real biggie. Celtic have a natural replacement ready and waiting for Saturday in McGregor.