Darren McGregor laughs off talk of a Scotland call-up

One of the biggest difficulties facing Hibernian these days is not getting carried away with the positivity and plaudits.

Hibernian's Fraser Fyvie fires in a shot during the easy win over Queen of the South. Picture: SNS
Hibernian's Fraser Fyvie fires in a shot during the easy win over Queen of the South. Picture: SNS

Pre-season favourites to win the Championship, the start to the campaign has simply heightened the expectations. With only one league defeat, they boast a defence that has conceded fewer goals than any other league side in Britain.

It means that, as well as delivering the points that have taken them clear at the top of the table, the performances have also triggered calls for certain individuals to be elevated to the international stage.

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Team-mate Fraser Fyvie was just one of those touting Darren McGregor and Paul Hanlon as the answer to Scotland’s defensive woes.

“That’s just way beyond the realms of possibility,” said McGregor. “Paul would deserve it, he is younger, but if Strachan wants an old cart-horse, I’m willing to oblige.”

Self-deprecating McGregor again proved himself more than that and after another clean sheet, this time against Queen of the South, their manager was also extolling the virtues of his miserly rearguard. That is a motivation, according to McGregor, but he insists it is vital they stay grounded.

“I’ve always tried to treat positives and negatives the same,” he said.

“I think as defenders you are always in the background. Forwards get the plaudits but our defence is one of the best in the country.

“We all put the work in but we defend from the front. It’s great to come away from a game with a clean sheet and the three points in the bag.”

It was a job well done on Saturday. They took the lead in the eighth minute. Grant Anderson had blocked in front of goal but couldn’t clear and Brian Graham lashed the ball high into the net.

Marc Millar’s free-kick struck the post when it looked like it might have restored parity but that effort was one of only a couple of chances for the visitors compared to the bucketload created by their hosts.

Hibs were rampant against the Dumfries outfit and the 4-0 win might have been even more emphatic had it not been for profligacy and the form of goalkeeper Lee Robinson. Hibs got their second three minutes from half-time, Chris Higgins directing John McGinn’s shot into his own goal.

The midfielder was superb but he was not alone. Full of drive, intensity and purpose, Hibs played lovely football throughout but, perhaps stung by the fact their half-time lead did not accurately reflect their early dominance, they moved up a gear at the start of the second period and added a third goal in the 53nd minute when captain David Gray flicked home a McGinn corner.

In the 65th minute Martin Boyle, who had threatened all day, finally got the goal his tenacity merited as he netted an angled shot.