The recent comments made by Neil Lennon on the possibility of resting Callum McGregor may worry some Celtic fans.
The Scotland midfielder, who played more minutes than any other world footballer last year, has been one of the most prominent players so far this term too. However, McGregor’s displays haven’t mirrored those of this time last year. Without being awful, he just doesn’t look to have the same panache about his play so far this term.
Many have called for him to be rested on a routinely basis, with Olivier Ntcham an obvious options to come in. However, Lennon doesn’t seem so keen to rotate – as he sent out an interesting message late last week.
“Callum is so reliable. I think people take that for granted, because he has that consistency of performance week in, week out,” Lennon told the Scottish Sun prior to the loss at Livingston.
“People are saying he needs a rest, but he’s too good a player to rest.
“But we have to strike a balance with Callum, because there’s no question there was fatigue kicking in last year due to the volume of games he played.
“We left him out of the trip to Estonia this season, gave him a week off there, and he got the benefit of that.
“As the season goes on and the games come thick and fast I’m sure we’ll give him a break here and there just to keep him fresh — but he’s in a good place at the minute.”
Lennon must choose to put McGregor first
There are a couple of worrying aspects to what Lennon says there. Yes, McGregor is one of our most important players. But too good to drop? Not many Celtic fans would agree with that assessment.
Lennon clings on to the fact that he left McGregor at home when the team travelled to Estonia to finish off the job against Nomme Kalju. Leading 5-0 from the first leg, it was an obvious decision not to include the likes of McGregor and James Forrest.
But sadly, that was the last Celtic game that McGregor didn’t feature in. The defeat to Livingston on Sunday was the 16th Celtic match in a row that he has played. He’s started all sixteen, and only not played the full match once – when he was taken off an hour into the cup win over Partick Thistle.
Added to that, McGregor has played twice for Scotland and will probably feature in both of their matches in the coming week.
The truth is that the aforementioned game against Thistle, as well as the earlier round against Dunfermline, and even the likes of Livingston away are games that McGregor shouldn’t play.
He doesn’t look like the player he was a year ago and Celtic must be blamed for that – after running him into the ground. If we don’t change our ways with the 26-year-old then we risk diminishing his talent even further.