Celtic won’t ease off against Cluj no matter who plays – McGregor

Callum McGregor insists that whoever Celtic field in their Europa League dead rubber against Cluj on Thursday will be “defending the badge and the club.”

The Hoops go into their final Group E fixture with the top spot and a place in the last 32 already secured.

And after Celtic’s 1-0 Betfred Cup final win over Old Firm rivals Rangers on Sunday – the Parkhead side’s 10th successive trophy win – boss Neil Lennon promised to give some players a rest for the trip to Romania.

McGregor has featured 37 times for club and country already this season and stressed there will be “no problem” if he is asked to play again but says Celtic’s starting X1, whoever they are, will be going all out to finish the group on a high.

The Scotland midfielder told the PA news agency: “There are no free hits at Celtic. You are always defending the badge and the club and the way we want to play, we are relentless with it as well.

“We don’t want to come off it for a game because we know how hard it is to get it back.

“Obviously we have topped the group and are in a good place but I still think
that whatever team we take over we will be at it and try to win the game.”

McGregor believes the way in which Celtic survived a Rangers onslaught at Hampden Park before and after Christopher Jullien scored the winning goal in the 59th minute demonstrated that the Parkhead side are a multi-faceted team.

Four minutes after Jullien knocked in Ryan Christie’s free-kick, Hoops goalkeeper Fraser Forster saved an Alfredo Morelos penalty after Celtic defender Jeremie Frimpong had been sent off for hauling back the Colombia striker inside the area.

“It shows this team has got everything,” said McGregor.

“We can dominate the ball and when we are up against it, against your biggest rivals with 10 men, it shows how good the character is in this team.

“We have done it year after year with winning the treble treble.

“Maybe people overlook how hard it is. If you have an off day you can easily get beat.

“It shows that this team is not willing to get beat.

“When we went to 10 men we probably got better and I think it gave us the impetus to hold on to the lead.

“It wasn’t the typical final where go and dominate but another string to our bow where we were under the cosh a wee bit we can show the character of this team to win 10 trophies in a row.”

McGregor also believes the victory over Rangers can have a psychological boost with regards the Ladbrokes Premiership title race, where the Hoops lead their rivals by two points.

The 26-year-old said: “It lets us know that we can do both.

“We can go and play our good stuff and mix it as well when we have to.

“To get that first trophy in the bag it is a psychological boost. It showed you that everything you have been doing since pre-season has paid off and it gives you confidence to go through the New Year period.”