John Collins reckons Celtic star Callum McGregor could play in any company

© SNSCallum McGregor could easily fit in at Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City in the English Premier League
Callum McGregor could easily fit in at Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City in the English Premier League

Celtic fans will hope John Collins doesn’t get a phone call from Brendan Rodgers this summer.

They would be horrified if their former boss was asking for his view on one of the players he left behind at Parkhead.

Collins would have to admit that Callum McGregor could easily line-up for Leicester City in the English Premier League.

The former Hoops assistant gave Rodgers a glowing report on the midfielder three years ago.

He said: “Callum is a coaches’ dream, and I told Brendan that when he first phoned
in 2016 to ask about the Celtic job and
players.

“I said he would enjoy working with Callum – and he was then a fixture in Brendan’s team.

“He scores goals, he makes goals, he works hard for the team.”

There’s been growing speculation that Rodgers would like to tempt McGregor to join him at the King Power Stadium.

Collins doesn’t hesitate when asked if the 25-year-old is good enough to operate in England’s top flight.

“Of course he is,” he said. “Without a shadow of a doubt, not a problem at all.

“Callum McGregor could play in any company.

“He is a football player who can control and pass the ball, he has good stamina, is intelligent, very rarely gives the ball away, penetrates, and has a killer pass.

“The physicality would not be a problem, but he would need to be in a team that plays football.

“He has got a first touch as good as anybody in England. His first touch is sensational.

“Go and watch him. Look at his head during a match – he is always looking.

“He rarely bumps into people.

“The ball comes to him in between opponents, which is the sign of a good player. He avoids contact.

“That’s key for any top-class player in the middle of the pitch.

“It’s a congested area. Certain players always bump into others – I’m not going to mention names –  but that’s because they have no awareness.

“Sometimes they get away with it because they are strong, but the best players in the best teams receive the ball between opponents.

“Watch PSG and Manchester City. Their players receive the ball in space.

“In Scottish football, it’s man-for-man and everyone is smashing into each other.”

McGregor was still performing well for Scotland in Belgium last week as he racked up his 69th and last game of the season.

Collins acknowledges that playing so many matches is a phenomenal achievement.

He believes the player must take a lot of credit for this professionalism and the way he looks after his body.

It would be a huge boost for Celtic and Scotland if Leigh Griffiths could get back to something like the fitness displayed by his team-mate.

The striker had the best season of his career when Collins was assisting Ronny Deila at Parkhead.

He hit the net 40 times in season 2015-16, but missed most of last season with personal problems and is now fighting to regain his fitness.

Collins has empathy for the player’s plight, but feels he also has to take some responsibility for reviving his career.

He said: “You have got to feel for him, and you have to hope that he can get himself back on track.

“I have seen him smashing them in from all angles with that left foot of his.

“He needs to get into the Celtic side and then back into that Scotland jersey.

“I had no problems with him. I used to work most days after training with him.

“We’d work on his finishing and, if you ask any striker, that’s what they enjoy doing most with any coach.

“Like most footballers, he needed to be told the truth sometimes, and sometimes the truth hurts.

“Other times he needed a cuddle, but all footballers are the same.

“He has to learn that you need to be dedicated to play 50-60 games a season.

“The last few seasons, he has not been able to do that.

“So he has to take a long look at himself and ask the questions to the guy in the mirror.”

Ticket applications for UEFA EURO 2020 are now open at euro2020.com/tickets.

Hampden Park will play host to 4 matches on June 15, 19, 23 and 30, 2020

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