CALLUM McGREGOR braced himself for an Old Firm triple header and roared: Bring it on.
The Celtic skipper could lead his side to three clashes with Rangers in as many weeks as the season plays out.
But McGregor says these are the times when the best players step in – especially with Champions League football’s gold-plated carrot hanging from them.
He said: “This is the scene you like.
“We have big international games coming up and then we’re back and fully focused, eight or nine weeks of ‘let’s go, that’s the good stuff’.
“That’s what you play football for – the big games where you have to stand up and be counted.”
Glasgow’s arch-rivals meet at Ibrox in the league on April 3, then a Scottish Cup semi-final on April 17, with their last meeting in the Premiership after the split.
McGregor added: “You are judged when big games come, big league games, semi-finals, hopefully a final, you have to accept that.
“If you want to play at Celtic you have to accept that pressure of having ten massive games and having to win them all to have a successful season.
“Over the years, while Celtic teams have done well in Europe, they tend to leave a pretty good legacy, and that’s something we aspire to.
“We are a new group, learning all the time and we want to be back in the elite competition, the Champions League.
“There is a huge motivation this year with the possibility of going directly to the group stage.
“Before, if you won the league, you still had four qualifiers to go through, which is quite grueling at the start of the season.
“You don’t quite know, new players have arrived, others have left to play internationals – one mistake and you’re out.
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“It’s hard to get through those eight games.
“If we won the league and went straight there, it would be great for the club in terms of income, status, everything.
“That’s the bracket we want to be in.”
Fingers crossed McGregor Kyogo Furuhashi and David Turnbull are back from injury for Celtic break-in.
He said: “It would be a good time, we need everyone to be fit.”
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