Derby can make or break debutants, warns Callum McGregor

Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor claims that scoring his side's third goal in their record 5-1 away win over Rangers in front of the visiting supporters in the Broomloan Stand was a moment indelibly seared upon his memory.

Celtic's Callum McGregor. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS

The 24-year-old, who had opened the scoring in the 2-0 Scottish Cup semi-final victory against the same opponents the previous weekend, believes that a similar outcome tomorrow will put an end to any hopes Rangers harbour of title deeds this season.

McGregor also revealed that, as a ballboy at Celtic Park, he raced the lengthy of the pitch to celebrate Thomas Gravesen’s opening goal in a 2-0 success for Gordon Strachan’s side in the fixture back in September, 2006.

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Nothing, though, quite matches the exhilaration he experienced after finding the net at Ibrox last year.

“The goal I scored at Ibrox is up there with the best of my Celtic career,” he said. “It was a great day. I’d scored the week before in the semi-final against Rangers but to score at Ibrox was something special.

“For me, it’s better to win at Ibrox because you have three-quarters of the stadium hating you so to then get a goal in front of your own fans is special. We’ve had good results there recently and it’s been a good place for us. Hopefully we can continue that on Sunday.”

Rangers will have more 
players experiencing the unique demands of the fixture than the champions and McGregor points out that 
it can either make or break debutants.

Last season Celtic striker Moussa Dembele announced his arrival with a hat-trick in a 5-1 win at Parkhead, the game which proved to be Joey 
Barton’s last in Scotland.

“We didn’t see him again, did we?” McGregor grinned. “It’s unforgiving; if you’ve had a bad game or been at fault for a goal, then it’s hard to come back from. It’s important that you do well and give your all for the cause. Rangers have brought in more Scottish boys and they will know exactly what it’s about. That will help the because they will know what it means to win but we have boys in our team who are exactly the same.

“We’ve been through the derby experience but, for some 
of them, it’s their first Rangers-Celtic match and it’ll be 
interesting to see how they handle it.”