Europa League: Celtic will 'defend the badge' whoever faces Cluj - Callum McGregor

By Iona BallantyneBBC Scotland
Celtic's Callum McGregor holds off Cluj's Damjan Djokovic
Callum McGregor has already faced Cluj three times this season - a win, a draw and a defeat
Europa League, Group E: Cluj v Celtic
Venue: Dr Constantin Radulescu Stadium, Cluj-Napoca Date: Thursday, 12 December Kick-off: 17:55 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW & digital and BBC Sport website

Callum McGregor says Celtic will be "defending the badge" and are determined to extend their winning run to 13 games no matter who faces Cluj.

While Cluj need a point to progress to the Europa League last 32, Celtic have already qualified as Group E winners.

And manager Neil Lennon has promised to give some players a rest for the trip to Romania after winning Sunday's League Cup final against Rangers.

"There are no free hits at Celtic," midfielder McGregor insisted.

"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."

McGregor has featured 37 times for club and country already this season, including a win, a draw and a defeat against Thursday's opponents, and stressed there will be "no problem" if he is asked to play again against the side who ended their Champions League qualification hopes.

"We know Cluj will be highly motivated and, for us, we just want to continue this run of the 12 games in a row," he said. "I think it was a tough game over there in the Champions League qualifiers."

Celtic's 1-0 win over their Glasgow rivals at Hampden Park secured a 10th successive domestic trophy, with Lennon matching Billy McNeill's record of being the only man in Scottish football history to win all three domestic trophies as both a player and manager at the same club.

Asked if that put Lennon up there with McNeill among the club's greats, McGregor said: "Yeah definitely - as you said, there's not too many in that category, so it shows just how good a manager he is, the calibre that he's got.

"He's a born winner. He demands from the players every single day. Even this morning in the warm-up, he was on the players to do it properly. So it shows his mentality and his winning mentality and that's rubbing off on the group as well."

Top Stories

Around Scottish sport

Elsewhere on the BBC