STAND-IN Celtic captain Callum McGregor last night refused to accept the Parkhead club’s hopes of completing 10-In-A-Row are over despite Rangers’ massive Premiership lead.
The quadruple treble winners, who are currently without 14 first team players as a result of Christopher Jullien’s positive Covid-19 test on Sunday, are 21 points behind their Glasgow rivals in the table.
However, McGregor is adamant the situation can change if the defending Scottish champions can win their three games in hand and the final two Old Firm matches of the season.
“You can’t stop believing,” he said. “We have the games in hand which could narrow the points difference so you can’t just look at the table and throw in the towel.
“It’s only January. The biggest thing is winning the games in hand and we have two massive games against them and we’ll see where the land lies after that.
“You’ve heard it a million times in football, things can change very quickly. We have to keep up the intensity and the mindset that it could happen. It’s about focusing on our training and making sure we’re winning the games that come around.”
Incensed Celtic supporters have called for chief executive Peter Lawwell to be sacked in the wake of the controversial trip to Dubai last week for a warm weather training break.
And many want to see Neil Lennon, who is among those self-isolating and is set to miss the Premiership match against on-form Livingston at Parkhead today, replaced as manager.
But McGregor, who was helpless to prevent a makeshift side comprising several fringe players and youths drawn 1-1 with Hibernian on Monday night, has appealed to the fans to get behind the team.
“The message is about sticking together as a club, as players, as supporters,” he said. “It’s pretty obvious that if you have everyone working with each other and going in the same direction it will carry you a lot further.
“In that sense, we need that one direction and one message from the top of the club right down. The supporters are a massive driving force for what we try to do as a club.
“When we go out on the pitch we try to have success for them. So it’s important that we stick together, try to turn around and that everyone keeps the faith.”
McGregor believes that invaluable lessons have been learned during the Covid-19 pandemic which will stand Celtic in good stead for future campaigns.
“It’s been a difficult season, there is no denying that,” he said. “In football so much is unpredictable, but at the start of the season if you’d written down everything that was going to happen on a bit of paper nobody would have believed you.
“That’s the situation we find ourselves and the most important thing for the players and everyone at the club is that we learn from this in a positive way. It’s easy to point the other way and start pointing fingers but we, as a club, have to learn from it.
“Whether it’s next season, we have to turn this around as quickly as possible. And next season, and seasons after that, we have to learn from these difficult times.”