Callum McGregor warns that Celtic will take advantage of Rangers’ 6,000-mile Europa League trip just days before Old Firm derby
- Celtic face Rangers in the first Old Firm derby of the season on Sunday afternoon
- The match comes just three days after Steven Gerrard’s team play in Russia
- Callum McGregor says the grueling Europa League journey will tell on the pitch
Celtic star Callum McGregor has warned Rangers to expect the worst when they face the first Old Firm derby of the season on Sunday after returning from a gruelling 6,000-mile round trip to Russia.
McGregor, whose club are hoping to resurrect a potential loan deal for Manchester City’s Brazilian midfielder Douglas Luiz, says he knows from personal experience how leg weary Steven Gerrard’s men will be following their journey to Ufa for Thursday’s Europa League play-off.
Brendan Rodgers’ side, by contrast, are at home to FK Suduva the same night following last week’s 1-1 draw in Lithuania.
Callum McGregor (right) believes Celtic are ready to take advantage of Rangers’ long journey
The Scotland midfielder, part of a Celtic squad who have experienced lengthy trips to Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Armenia, believes the Ibrox side’s inevitable fatigue could be crucial to the outcome of Sunday’s derby at Parkhead.
‘They’ll have to deal with getting home at 4am on Friday – and we need to take advantage of that,’ said McGregor. ‘We did the travelling last week. It does affect you. You come back and think you feel good but, five to ten minutes into the game, you can feel it in your legs. That can be difficult, obviously.
‘Coming back from Russia is the hardest, just down to the distance. You get back home and get into bed – but you’re up again first thing in the morning to get back into the training ground and do your recovery. So, it’s quite tough but that’s the job.’
Douglas Luiz remains on the radar for Celtic as they chase up to four new signings by August 31
Celtic sit a point clear of Gerrard’s side after three rounds of Premiership fixtures, with McGregor noting: ‘There’s a lot of talk coming from Rangers – but we’re just focusing on what we’re doing.’
Meanwhile, Luiz remains on Celtic’s radar as they chase between two and four new signings before Friday’s transfer deadline.
Despite a personal plea from Pep Guardiola, the 20-year-old was denied an English work permit last month and is expected to leave the Etihad on loan this week. Benfica and Porto are vying for the holding midfielder’s signature while a return to Girona on loan has not been ruled out.