Former Celtic star Billy Stark has backed Callum McGregor to go straight into the Scotland starting eleven after the midfielder finally received an international call-up yesterday.

The 24-year-old, who hit a double in Celtic’s draw with Hibernian on Saturday, was drafted in by Scotland boss Gordon Strachan yesterday after teammates Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong withdrew from the squad through injury.

Despite resisting the clamour to bring McGregor into the international fold to that point, Stark believes there is a real chance that Strachan could opt to hand him his first cap from the start in Thursday’s crucial qualifier against Slovakia at Hampden.

And having coached the player at under-19 and under-21 level, Stark is certain that McGregor could handle it.

“Gordon has said that the success we’ve had in the last few games is partly down to that Celtic factor, so that augurs well for Callum’s chances,” said Stark.

“Armstrong and Brown have obviously been crucial to us in terms of the change in fortunes, and we will be hurt by them not being there. But Callum could certainly help to fill the void.

“You might think that with him being a late call-up that he hasn’t been in the manager’s thoughts, but players have trained their way into the team in the past, and Gordon has shown if players impress him in training he will put them in.

“I think Callum could definitely handle it if he is thrown straight in, because he has an excellent temperament, which suggests to me that he will have the confidence to show his ability and that he deserves to be in there.

“That will be something he will have to show Gordon in the coming days, but as a Scotland fan, I certainly wouldn’t worry about him going straight into the team, that’s for sure.”

Stark says that McGregor’s technical ability wouldn’t look out of place in some of the top teams in the world, and that it was simply a matter of time and opportunity before the Scotland call came.

“He could play in any of the top teams in terms of manipulating the ball and shifting the ball,” he said. "He’s got such tidy feet and he makes the right decisions with the ball.

“There’s obviously the physical aspect at the very top level that could be a factor against him, but in terms of footballing ability and being able to see the game, as well as having the quality of touch and finish as well, when you put it all together, the case for him being in the national squad was definitely there.

“The opening is now there with Stuart and Broony being out, and he was the obvious one to come in.”