Hibs' Darren McGregor not giving up hope of Scotland call-up

Hibs' Darren McGregor and Paul Hanlon celebrate
Darren McGregor says Paul Hanlon has a better case for a cap call

Darren McGregor has not given up hope of a Scotland call-up but believes Hibernian team-mate Paul Hanlon has a stronger case.

The two central defenders have helped Hibs win the Scottish Championship and reach the Scottish Cup semi-final.

"For me, Paul Hanlon deserves a call-up before me," McGregor told BBC Scotland.

"But, if you ask me personally, I feel that I could contribute, I could definitely play. I think I could equip myself quite well."

Scotland head coach Gordon Strachan has acknowledged that central defence is a problem area, with the likes of Newcastle United's Grant Hanley earning caps while out of favour with their clubs.

But 31-year-old McGregor, who joined Hibs from Rangers in 2015, admits that age and time spent in the Championship has not aided his own and Hanlon's cause.

"Obviously, as a manager, you build towards important European Championships and World Cups and you are not going to get that from me," he said.

"I'm probably going to be on the way out when they come.

Scotland defender Grant Hanley
Grant Hanley has been a Scotland regular despite a lack of games for Newcastle

"The guys who are not playing for their clubs are maybe playing at a better standard.

"No disrespect to the Scottish Championship, but they are maybe playing in the English Premier League, or they have done and are playing in the Championship in England, which, lets not beat about the bush, they are worlds apart.

"If I can keep the consistency levels that I've attained in the Championship and take them into the Premiership then there might be a little carrot at the end of it for me."

Hibs head coach Neil Lennon has claimed that his side are the second best in Scotland, despite losing Saturday's cup semi-final to Aberdeen.

"I know where the gaffer's coming from," said McGregor. "If you look at our squad, there are players there that could play for most teams outside of Celtic - Celtic are a level above.

"It is for us to go up and prove our worth."

McGregor points out that Hearts and Rangers have gone on to establish themselves in the top six immediately after promotion but thinks Hibs will need to add to their squad.

"Maybe third or fourth would be our ambitions, because we are a big club, and to attain that level you would need to go out and get players," he said.

Aberdeen's Jonny Hayes fires the winner with a deflection off Hibs' Darren McGregor
Jonny Hayes won the semi-final for Aberdeen with a deflection off Darren McGregor

McGregor welcomed the agreement made to sign to sign Danny Swanson this summer as he believes that St Johnstone's attacking midfielder will add a goal threat.

The former St Mirren defender admits he suffered a difficult semi-final - playing his part in a catalogue of mistakes that led to Aberdeen's early opener and deflecting in the Dons' winner.

Lennon lambasted his side for their performance - and particularly their poor start.

"If you know the gaffer, he wears his heart on his sleeve and he's very opinionated," McGregor added in response. "He's the manager, so we stick by him.

"We know that, when we're playing well, we'll get the plaudits. We know that, when we're not playing well, he'll come after you with both barrels. That's just the way he is.

"It was very disappointing because these are the spectacle games you want to play well in.

"I've been quite consistent all season and it was just a shame that, in the most important game, it's tarnished by a mistake and a deflection.

"I've beat myself up about that probably more than anybody. This is the first time I've been out since Saturday."

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