McGregor, right, helped Celtic clinch their eighth successive title at Pittodrie in May last yearScottish Premiership: Aberdeen v CelticVenue: Pittodrie Stadium Date: Sunday, 16 February Kick-off: 12:00 GMTCoverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Scotland and text updates on BBC Sport website & appHe is the metronomic marathon man at the centre of Celtic’s gallop towards potentially even more domestic honours.For the second season running, no player in world football has spent more time on the pitch than Callum McGregor.The 26-year-old midfielder will make his 50th appearance of the campaign in Sunday’s Scottish Premiership tussle at Pittodrie, as Celtic bid to stride 13 points clear at the top.McGregor continues to set the tempo and orchestrate play for the treble treble winners and his understated excellence hasn’t gone unnoticed. Former manager Brendan Rodgers was given short shrift last summer when he approached Celtic with a view to luring the player to Leicester City.That interest from a top-four English Premier League club came as no surprise to Paul Hartley, a predecessor in McGregor’s Celtic midfield role.”He could play at any level,” Hartley says. “He’s a fantastic team player and has just been so consistent.”He looks like he has a good temperament and character about him. I don’t think he’s a social media person either, he just looks like he wants to play football all the time.” McGregor’s ability as a deep-lying playmaker has yielded six assists in the league this season, a total bettered by only three players.And Celtic’s switch of formation to a 3-5-2 since the turn of the year has given McGregor more attacking licence. He heads to Pittodrie looking to score for the third successive match, and half of his 10-goal haul this season has come in the past nine games.”He’s a top midfielder who can do everything – score, sit, create, great pace,” Hartley adds. “He’s a really intelligent footballer and one I always like watching.”Celtic have been so strong since they came back from the winter break. It looks like the defeat to Rangers was the best thing that could have happened to them.”They are playing with a real purpose and intensity, and McGregor is a massive part of that.”

‘Aberdeen are where they should be’History is not on Aberdeen’s side as they attempt to halt the Celtic juggernaut on Sunday. The Parkhead club are on a run of eight consecutive Pittodrie wins, often with plenty to spare – they’ve scored at least three goals in the last four visits.Manager Derek McInnes could do with that sort of firepower. His team ended a five-game goalless run with a 3-1 success at Hamilton Academical in midweek, but McInnes remains under pressure with the Red Army growing restless.Hartley, who ended his playing career with a season at Aberdeen, believes criticism of McInnes is harsh, and says he has done “a brilliant job” during his seven-year tenure.”Aberdeen are where they should be just now, compared to the spending power of Celtic and Rangers,” Hartley, the current Cove Rangers boss, says.”They are in third place and have a great chance of reach the Scottish Cup quarter-finals in midweek. So it can be another good season.”It’s not easy. Derek’s had to rebuild his squad every other year and has lost a lot of good players. It’s the way football is now, everybody is there to criticise you.”Celtic have shown at most away grounds, not just at Pittodrie, that they are a formidable force. When I was with Aberdeen it wasn’t a game you dreaded, it’s one you look forward to. You always to want to play against the best players.”

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