Callum McGregor is confident he can continue performing the Scott Brown role for his country as successfully as he has done for his club in recent weeks.
Extra responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of the Celtic midfielder after John McGinn’s withdrawal due to injury. The Aston Villa midfielder became the eighth player to pull out of Alex McLeish’s squad for the vital Nations League qualifiers against Albania and Israel.
Scotland must take at least four points from the two games to guarantee topping their group. But McLeish has been hit with a raft of call-offs. He has already had to recruit Jack Hendry as emergency cover for Aberdeen centre-half Mikey Devlin, who withdrew earlier this week. McGinn, who has started Scotland’s last four matches and was due to play a vital role in the coming days, has been forced to return to his club after sustaining a calf injury in training.
McLeish has decided against any additional call-ups ahead of tomorrow night’s clash with Albania in Shkoder but may bring in someone to replace McGinn before the game with Israel on Tuesday.
Brown, meanwhile, retired from international football again earlier this year but remains a big loss in the middle of midfield for Scotland.
McGregor has deputised for his injured team-mate at Celtic and this switch has coincided with the champions’ best run of form this season. With McGinn now absent and Fulham central midfielder Kevin McDonald an earlier withdrawal, McLeish could turn to McGregor to play a deeper role, as he has done so effectively for Celtic since replacing the injured Brown there.
“We have had some good results and the European one [v RB Leipzig] was a big one for us as well,” said McGregor. “It is about trying to learn the position as a player.
“The manager [Brendan Rodgers] has asked me to play a couple of different positions for Celtic before so it is just trying to learn that one and get up to pace with it as quickly as possible.
“Whether I am asked to play in that position by the manager [McLeish] or wherever I am asked to play I will certainly try to give it my best,” he added.
“It is a team effort and everyone has to muck in. Andy [Robertson] is learning the role of skipper too so I think it is probably a collective responsibility.
“We have got to be better than what we were in the last trip [against Israel] and we need results,” McGregor added. “It needs to be a big effort from all the lads. We are at a stage now where we need to get results. The players know that and the manager knows that and we are all working well. The intensity at training has been excellent and we are looking forward to these games.”