You could be forgiven as a Celtic supporter for thinking Callum McGregor’s appearances last season were a flash in the pan. Although it must also be said, there are some of the support who don’t rate the midfielder either.
In his near two seasons playing in the Celtic first team, McGregor has kept himself in Ronny Deila’s plans. As a matter of fact, it was Deila who handed him his first team debut against KR Reykjavík in 2014.
Not just his senior debut at the club, but a European debut. Into the bargain he scored the only goal of that game in Iceland.
He stayed in the team but later suffered a dip in form and found himself out of contention in Deila’s first season. It’s fair to say that indifferent form aside, a lot of changes were being made in that first year so to find himself out of the picture was not all of his own doing.
Before that first season was over, he broke his ankle in training and was sidelined over the spring and summer months. This season, he has got himself back in the frame.
So far he has weighed in with 6 goals in 26 appearances in all competitions. For a player who hasn’t held down a position for an entire season and in a packed midfield that’s not bad at all.
Despite some fans not truly believing in his abilities, McGregor has the stats to back up his inclusion in this team. Before he made his debut for Celtic under Ronny Deila he spent a year away on loan.
For some Celtic players that can mean the end of your career at the club. Not for McGregor though because he found his way back.
After playing at Notts County in season 2013-2014, he racked up 40 appearances. He also scored 14 goals to go with it, including 1 in the League Cup which isn’t bad for a 20-year-old (as he was during that loan spell).
League One may not be every boys dream but playing first team football on a regular basis is. There can be no doubt, McGregor used that season well, came back to home base and was given a chance based upon that loan spell.
Having suffered a dip in form, a serious injury and an untimely driving ban in the last 12 or so months, it is fair to say he has done well to get back in the game and reapply himself. At that age, you might expect him to go off the rails but Ronny Deila has kept him in the picture and the player has responded.
There is no doubt that Deila likes McGregor and I have to admit, he has kept at it. Has he won over all of the support yet?
Not sure about that, but he does have his fans, myself included. And let’s face it, we all love a home-grown player in the team.
What McGregor now needs to do is keep applying himself. Competition for places is tight but come the summer there will be a cull.
He will be on the right side of that I am sure. Others will not be so lucky but that shouldn’t be a signal for complacency either.
The Scottish midfielder has already surpassed last seasons stats and there are more games still to be played. With the future of players like James Forrest hanging in the balance, Ronny Deila will be happy to have a player with McGregor’s dedication, fitness, impact and youth available to him.