Steve Clarke explains Scotland call-up for injured Celtic captain Callum McGregor
Scotland manager Steve Clarke has stated that he’s happy to take the risk on injured Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor as there’s still plenty of time for him to recover.
McGregor has missed Celtic’s last four matches with a hamstring injury. His last Hoops appearance came in the 3-0 win against Ross County after the September international break.
The latest on his injury return came from manager Ange Postecoglou. He stated before the 1-1 draw against Dundee Utd on Sunday that a return for McGregor against Bayer Leverkusen would be “optimistic”. That leaves only the trip to Aberdeen this Sunday as his final chance to return before the internationals.
And Clarke believes he will indeed have McGregor in his squad for the games against Israel and the Faroe Islands in a fortnight.
Speaking via Clyde 1, the Scotland boss said: “When you name a squad there’s still 11 days days before matchday, so plenty of time. There’s a couple of games. Callum’s in that situation. Stuart Armstrong is in a similar situation, but I’m hoping they both get some minutes in the next couple of games and they’ll be fit and available to join the squad.
“The medical staff have been in constant touch. They know where the players are that. As always we’ll treat them as well as we can. It’s the same significance as the game against Moldova, the game against Austria in the last camp. The next two games are big in the context of trying to get second place in the group.
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“Israel first will be a tight game I would imagine. We’ve played them quite a lot recently and know each other well. Hopefully a good game. Great to see tickets have sold out for the game – a full house at Hampden.”
Callum McGregor must allow head to rule heart as Celtic vs Scotland decision needs made
Make no mistake, if this was down to Postecoglou, McGregor would be going absolutely nowhere. We would be using the international break to get him back up to speed and all would be well for the next phase of games.
Given it’s a hamstring injury McGregor picked up, we don’t need to aggravate it. Travelling around Europe and playing in two high-intensity matches of big importance? That’s something Postecoglou would absolutely love to avoid.
But the decision will be McGregor’s. The Celtic captain will be the only one who knows whether he’s ready for the international challenge or not. However, it’s vital he doesn’t allow his heart to rule over his head.
McGregor will be itching to play a big part in these games. Given it’s crunch time for Scotland in their bid to quality for the World Cup, McGregor will have a desire to be at the centre of it. Yet he can’t allow putting his Celtic responsibilities at risk.
If he doesn’t feel 100% ready to go, he needs to stay at Lennoxtown. It’s more vital he’s prepared for a hectic October/November schedule than it is that he plays a couple of internationals. Especially when there are replacements who can slot into Clarke’s side comfortably.
We all want Callum to be back to full fitness as soon as possible. But this international call-up couldn’t have come at a worse time. Hopefully, nothing gets risked here.