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McGregor: We want to make fans proud before welcoming them back

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CALLUM McGregor is determined to work hard between now and August 1, in order to hit the ground running for the proposed start of the Scottish football calendar.

As it stands, matches will at first take place behind closed doors – and the 27-year-old said he and his colleagues will work extra hard in order to do Hoops fans proud, before they’re able to re-enter Paradise in the fullness of time.

The revised timetable will see the Premiership kick off before this season’s UEFA Champions League qualifiers, the latter of which will be single-leg encounters until the competition’s play-off round.

Naturally, this poses a new challenge for Celtic, but McGregor is confident he and his team-mates have what it takes to succeed.

“We know how beneficial the fans can be to us, certainly in one-off games, but also throughout the season, they come and they back us in their numbers – whether that’s here at Celtic Park, up and down the country or abroad in Europe,” said McGregor.

“We know how much they give us as well. If we have to start the season behind closed doors, then we’ll certainly be giving absolutely everything on the pitch to make sure we’re doing them proud when they’re watching on the TV. But it’ll be great to get everyone back together in some sort of capacity, where they’re roaring us on and we’re doing our bit on the pitch to try and deliver for them.

“The single-leg ties are going to be different. It becomes straight knock-out football, and anything can happen in these games. We’ve been fairly good at negotiating the rounds, whether that be getting into the Champions League or the Europa, that’s been several seasons in a row where we’ve had European football.

“Negotiating the ties is going to be slightly different, in terms of them being one-off games, but you know that you can put everything into that 90 minutes and try and get it done. It’s different but it’s something we’re looking forward to and relishing as well.”

McGregor said that Celtic’s formidable away form in the Europa League last campaign – not least against Lazio in Rome – will stand them in good stead from a confidence perspective this year, and stressed that despite the new format, they’ll be as up for these matches than ever.

He added: “In previous seasons, we’ve come back in and our first competitive game has been a European qualifier. You have to get to that level straight away, and you can be two or three weeks into the season before you play the first league game.

“I think we could be in a better place, in terms of the actual training that we’ve got leading up to those games and we’ll have one, possibly two games before we play those European ties. I actually think that the timeframe we have this season is beneficial, and with training and preparation time we’ll be ready to go.”

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