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Callum McGregor: Let’s finish the job and book Scotland’s place in Qatar

Callum McGregor, right, with Billy Gilmour
Callum McGregor, right, with Billy Gilmour

Scotland midfielder Callum McGregor is determined to finish the job and book a place in the 2022 World Cup finals after helping the national team secure a play-off berth.

The Celtic captain played a key role as Steve Clarke’s side booked a place in the play-offs with a game to spare thanks to a 2-0 win in Moldova.

McGregor believes the players should be proud of their efforts so far after taking 20 points from nine matches but knows the job is far from done.

He said: “When the group was drawn our aim was to qualify. We knew it was a really tough task and we’d need to produce some top performances and we’ve managed to do that.

“We’re two games away from Qatar now and that’s the objective as that’s where we want to be.

“The confidence within the group due to the big results we’ve got recently has kicked the group on going into these games. We know this group can handle the pressure.”

Scotland were impressive against Moldova, handling the weight of expectation to book their play-off spot thanks to goals from Nathan Patterson – his first for his country – and Che Adams.

National team boss Clarke was bold too with a 3-4-3 formation and it was hugely effective in what was a composed and assured performance.

McGregor said: “We knew the gameplan and we were one win away from the play-offs, and there was a real intensity to go and get the goals we needed for the victory.

“It’s great for us to have two or three systems in our locker. It lets us be flexible. We created a lot of chances in that shape so it will be really pleasing for the manager.”

Big result needed on Monday against Denmark

Scotland’s two wins against Moldova will not count in the final tally when it comes to deciding the six nations which will be seeded for the draw but Scotland can secure a seeded place with victory against Group F winners Denmark on Monday in the final qualifier at Hampden.

McGregor insists his team is ready and said: “We needed this win to guarantee the play-off spot but we are looking forward to another big night on Monday and hopefully we can get a result.

“We can take confidence from getting over the line (last year) and we need big performances from this group.

“There has been difficult moments within the qualification campaign. Israel was a difficult night but the way the boys have bounced back has been different class.

“We had a difficult night in Denmark too and we know we will have to be at our best to get a result on Monday.”

Rangers defender Patterson, who only turned 20 last month, continued his rise to prominence with his first goal for Scotland and McGregor believes the youngster’s talent has been evident from day one.

He said: “He’s been first class. You can tell he’s a talent. From the first day he trained with us in the summer you knew he had quality so it was nice to see him get off the mark in such a big game.

“It’s up to us to keep him honest, keep him working hard. He’s made a great start to his international career and it’s up to him to push on from here.”

McGregor’s former Celtic team-mate Craig Gordon was equally impressive as the 38 year-old Hearts captain made a penalty save at 2-0 to ensure there was no late drama in Chisinau.

McGregor was not surprised.

Scotland’s Craig Gordon saves a penalty from Moldova’s Vadim Rata

He said: “He’s like Peter Pan isn’t he? He never gets old. I’ve played with Craig for many years and there has been big moments where he has kept us on track.

“For someone like me I know what he is capable of but as he gets older he seems to be getting better.”

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