The Celtic captain’s willingness to put himself in harm’s way only 11 days on from what the 28-year-old has now revealed was a double fracture of his cheekbone appears above and beyond in service to his club’s cause. McGregor, though, plays down any sense of value – and any real sense of risk. Even as he admits the week-and-a-half since he was felled during the Scottish Cup tie in Alloa by a facial collision it was suspected would sideline him for up to six week impacted on the fundamental aspects of day-to-day living . And left him in excruciating pain. Yet, none of that means he harbored any fears going into a derby that delivered a 3-0 success to take Celtic to the top of the table. McGregor took on the challenge of playing in the fixture because he knew that those willing him and his team to succeed would put themselves through that.
“No, no fear,” he said of any apprehensions about his comeback that followed the Scotland international coming through a training session the day before Wednesday’s confrontation. “You know the situation, but when the game starts you just go into that mode where you don’t have any fear. The atmosphere, the adrenaline, everything is going and you just want to help the team. I spoke before the game that I just wanted to do everything I could to get myself on the pitch and help the team, and do that for the supporters. I know that every single one of them would play with a broken face if they had to, so why am I any different? I thought the team were absolutely first-class and full credit to them as well.
“It’s been pretty sore. You take injuries in football, but it was clear at the start of the week I had half a chance, and that’s all I needed to make the game. I’ve got the mask that gives it the protection that it needs. pretty much [it has affected my sleeping and eating] since the start of the recovery process. It was all soft food and everything else until we spoke to the specialist and go their opinion. After we spoke to him I felt a bit better, and then I’ve just been getting better every day. So, thanks to the club for trying to look after me as best as possible.”
McGregor, perhaps taking his lead from his manager, isn’t keen to speculate how long it will take the bones on the side of his face to settle and knit back together. There’s a break in two places [and] we just need to let it heal and take its course. As long as it’s not sore then I’m happy to play. It’s a kind of strange one. I don’t want to give a date on it [healing] Because I’m not really sure, but certainly from where I was 48 to 72 hours ago, I’m in a much, much better place. I hope I’ll be OK [for Sunday’s trip to Motherwell] and there’s no reaction from the game.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.