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Celtic captain Callum McGregor wants Hoops to turn up the heat this winter

© SNS GroupScott Brown and Callum McGregor met up again when Celtic visited Pittodrie back in October
Scott Brown and Callum McGregor met up again when Celtic visited Pittodrie back in October

Celtic captain Callum McGregor has urged his team-mates to roll the momentum of their League Cup semi-final win into a push for silverware at home and abroad.

The Hoops, who host Aberdeen today, edged out St Johnstone last weekend to claim their place in the first showpiece of the season.

That will be played against Hibs back at Hampden on December 19, and McGregor sees it as part of a pivotal few weeks for the club.

“This is a really important period for us,” said the Hoops midfielder.

“You get into the end of November, December and there are so many games. You are getting them coming at you every three or four days.

“But we know if we can be really strong between now and the winter break, then hopefully we should be in a good position come the turn of the year.

“So we will try to build momentum – both in terms of our performances in the games, and the results.

“You are in a cycle of play, recovery for the next game, and then play again.

“If you can get into that pattern – and the team are feeling good and you are getting results – then it can quite quickly snowball into a really strong run.”

With Rangers taking on Livingston on their artificial surface today, it would appear to offer a possible chance for Ange Postecoglou’s men to cut the gap down from four points.

The Celtic skipper, though, is determined to keep his side focused on what in front of them.

“We just have to look at what we are doing – our games, our performances and our results,” he said.

“We are a relatively-new team, with a lot of new players and a lot of young players.

“So we have to try to focus on what we are doing, and try to improve every time we are on the training pitch.

“Do that well, and then when the games come around, we will try to make sure we take maximum points.

“There are a lot of big games coming up, and we want to maximise the number of points and wins we can get as much as we can.”

Today’s visit of Aberdeen will throw up a couple of quite-significant distractions from the title race.

It will be the first time Scott Brown has returned to Celtic Park to play for another club and, of course, it is the day when Celtic will honour the memory of Lisbon Lion, Bertie Auld.

“It will be a big occasion for Scott, and it will be good to see him,” said McGregor of his predecessor as club captain.

“He was brilliant for me when I was coming through and then, over the last few years, we got really close.

“He was such a great leader, there were always bits where I would try to learn off what he would do in any given situation.

“At the same time, we have to look at the game itself. That means trying to take the emotion out of it as much as possible to focus on what we need to do.

“Once the game is over, we will have a chat. But for the 90 minutes, both of us will be doing everything we can to win the game for our respective teams.”

Ahead of the match, both men will lay wreaths in Auld’s memory trackside as part of Celtic’s special tribute to the Lisbon Lion.

“One of our legends has passed away, and the club has come up with a very fitting tribute – as it always does – to remember Bertie,” said McGregor.

“We’ll be trying to create a special atmosphere for him on Sunday, and then we need to try and match that with the result as well.

“It is a good time for Scott to be coming to us because he is a Celtic legend, too, and it is fitting he can join us at this time.”