Callum McGregor looking forward to two-week rest after gruelling 69-game season

Callum McGregor looking forward to two-week rest after gruelling 69-game season

Scotland midfielder Callum McGregor is looking forward to a “well-earned” break after finally completing his gruelling 69-game campaign.

The Celtic man played one last time as the Scots slumped to a 3-0 defeat against Belgium in Brussels on Tuesday night.

It brought to an end a season that started way back on July 10 last year when his Hoops side kicked off their Champions League bid against Alashkert in Armenia.

Callum McGregor's campaign started against Alashkert in July
Callum McGregor’s campaign started against Alashkert in July (Robert Parry/PA)

In the 11 months that followed, McGregor racked up 35 league appearances, eight in the two domestic cups plus 16 in UEFA competitions as his side completed the triple treble.

National team commitments added another 10 games to his hectic workload, but the 25-year-old will not be given long to rest up his weary limbs.

Neil Lennon’s champions are due back at Lennoxtown for their pre-season preparations in less than a fortnight as the action gets ready to start all over again with next month’s European qualifiers.

“I’ll try and get a week off, a wee bit of sun before we go back on the 24th,” McGregor told the Scottish Football Association’s Twitter account.

“I’ll try to rest up until then and enjoy a well-earned break, which will be good.”

If McGregor was hoping for an easy clash to round off his season, he was left disappointed as Roberto Martinez’s star-studded Belgium side tied the Scots in knots.

Steve Clarke’s team did their best to hold out until first-half stoppage time when Eden Hazard teed up Romelu Lukaku to head past David Marshall.

It proved to be a tough night after that as Scotland suffered their second Euro 2020 qualifying defeat in three games.

McGregor said: “Of course it was tough. I thought for the first 45 minutes the boys were outstanding.

Romelu Lukaku breaks the deadlock for Belgium
Romelu Lukaku breaks the deadlock for Belgium (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“We held our discipline really well, made some great blocks. Marsh made a couple of great saves too and we did everything the manager asked us to do, apart from the scoreline being 1-0 as we were desperate to get in there at 0-0.

“It was so frustrating to concede that goal just before half-time as we’d played so well up until then.”

But despite seeing new boss Clarke suffer his first loss just two games into his reign, McGregor can see plenty of reasons to be optimistic about what the former Kilmarnock manager has planned for the national team.

Asked for his thoughts on Clarke’s first week in charge, he said: “It’s been great. There’s some real enthusiasm about the place again.

“I think you can see from performances like last night and on Saturday against Cyprus that we’re going to be based on that defensive structure and counter-attacking well, trying to get goals on the break.

Oliver Burke's goal gave Scotland a winning start under Steve Clarke
Oliver Burke’s goal gave Scotland a winning start under Steve Clarke (Jeff Holmes/PA)

“There’s a lot there to show promise.

“The boys have enjoyed it, the manager has enjoyed it as well, so we’re looking forward to the Russia game in September.

“That will be a massive match. We’ve earmarked that as the big one coming into this week.

“We knew we had to beat Cyprus at the weekend but Belgium was a bit of a free hit.

“However, we’ve shown in bits that we can do well against top opposition so we are now looking forward to that Russia game.”