Callum McGregor: Celtic aided by delayed Champions League start – BBC News

Callum McGregor helped Celtic stun Lazio 2-1 in Rome last season

Celtic will benefit from not beginning Champions League qualifiers until mid-August next season, says midfielder Callum McGregor.

The Scottish champions have started their European bid in the early weeks of July in recent years, but Covid-19 has led to Uefa pushing dates back.

The Premiership is due to kick off on 1 August, with Celtic’s one-legged first-round qualifier on 18 or 19 August.

“We’ll be two weeks into the season and in a better place,” said McGregor.

“In previous seasons we’ve come back and our first competitive game has been Champions League qualifiers. You have to try to get to that level straight away.

“That’s a benefit, the timeframe we’ve got this season. We should be ready.”

To progress to the Champions League groups for the first time in three years, Neil Lennon’s side will have to come through three rounds of one-legged qualifiers, with only the play-off then held on a home and away basis.

Celtic have lost just one of their eight last away games in Europe, including a memorable 2-1 win over Lazio last season which sent them through to the Europa League last 32.

McGregor says that record fuels belief as they go for a 10th straight season of group-stage football.

“We changed our set-up slightly away from home last season and got good results,” the Scotland international added. “That will be in our heads, that we can go places and still be a threat on the counter-attack and get goals.

“Whether it’s here or away from home, we will fancy our chances to get through.”

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