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Callum McGregor's treble gives Celtic a lift ahead of Rosenberg

 

By Ronnie Esplin

Callum McGregor hopes he can be the man to supply a crucial Champions League goal for Celtic after hitting a hat-trick in a 5-0 friendly win over Sunderland.

Celtic gatecrashed Sunderland's 20-year celebration of their Stadium of Light move by thrashing Simon Grayson's side and giving themselves a lift ahead of their third qualifying round second leg tie against Rosenborg in Norway.

McGregor was an unused substitute in the goalless first leg at Parkhead as Celtic toiled without injured strikers Leigh Griffiths and Moussa Dembele.

And the midfielder believes he could be the man to make the difference in Trondheim on Wednesday.

"I might be," McGregor told Celtic TV. "Jamesy (Forrest) was excellent up front and I thought me and Scotty (Sinclair) linked up well, especially for my second goal. I thought we did well, so hopefully.

"I scored a hat-trick in the Youth Cup final when I was younger but that was my first in a senior game."

Forrest moved into the centre after Tom Rogic struggled in the position on Wednesday.

Griffiths hopes to shake off a calf strain to make the team in midweek but manager Brendan Rodgers found another option in the shape of the Scotland winger.

"We didn't have a centre forward but we have players like James Forrest, who played up front, and he was exceptional in his link-up play and his ability to receive the ball and get turned and move," Rodgers said.

"Callum, I have said it before, is a top young talent and he will be very important for us in the season and you saw that. He also has the ability to score goals.

"We have that throughout the team. We showed it last season, we will show it this season and we hope we can show that over the course of the qualification phase."

With one eye on the second leg of the Champions League qualifier - the Hoops drew a blank in the first game - the Parkhead boss shuffled his squad with youngsters Anthony Ralston and Calvin Miller featuring from the start.

A hat-trick from Callum McGregor and goals from Jonny Hayes and Stuart Armstrong left the Black Cats reeling.

After his side lifted the Dafabet Cup Rodgers said: "The players put on a real show today. It was a really good performance at this stage of the season.

"We will get ready now over the next days, we will look forward to that (Rosenborg), and it's a nice little confidence booster going into that game."

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