Crisis? What crisis?

Celtic’s exploits this season have, despite the Parkhead club once again qualifying for the Champions League group stages, retaining the Betfred Cup, establishing a comfortable eight point lead in the Ladbrokes Premiership, reaching the knockout stages of the Europa League and progressing in the William Hill Scottish Cup, not been hailed quite as reverentially as they were last term.

Indeed, the performances of Brendan Rodgers’s side have even, not least in the heavy and humiliating European defeats to Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich and the domestic losses to Hearts back in December and Kilmarnock last weekend, been criticised by many.

Suggestions the Scottish champions have gone backwards since their annus mirabilis have been rife and at times very difficult for them to refute.

Yet Callum McGregor – one of several Celtic players who has toiled to reproduce the form of the 2017/18 campaign, when they went undefeated domestically and won only the fourth treble in their 129 year history, in recent months - insists he is unconcerned by what the detractors are saying about both his own personal displays and those of his team.

The midfielder, who has found himself out of the side in the last two games against Hearts and Kilmarnock as the result of some decidedly subdued showings, always appreciated it would be difficult for the Glasgow club to maintain the incredibly high standards they set and stressed that neither he nor his team mates has been affected by the disparaging comments which have been made about their efforts.

He believes they are doing very well indeed thank you very much, are more than capable of enjoying another enormously successful season and may even, if they can successfully negotiate their Europa League last 32 double header with an expensively-assembled Zenit St Petersburg in the coming fortnight, take their exploits under Rodgers, on the continent at least, to a new level.

“It is impossible to do what we did last season again, an unbeaten treble,” he said as he looked ahead to this afternoon’s Scottish Cup fifth round meeting with Partick Thistle at Parkhead. “It was a perfect season. It you disregard that and look at this season on its own then it has still been a great season.

“You are always going to get people in football who are not happy with what you’re doing. That is just part and parcel of it. But in the dressing room as a group we know exactly what we’re doing and we are trying to progress.

“This season, we have got a trophy, we are eight points clear, we are in the Europa League after Christmas. If you take that as its own season then it’s a great season as well. It’s important for us not to get too down or too disheartened with anybody who’s trying to criticise us. We know exactly what we’re doing in here and we know what the goal is. We just have to brush that off and keep going.

“The goal for us at the start of the season was to try and progress in some way in Europe. Obviously we have got to this stage in the Europa League. We have got a great tie. We know what they’re all about, we know they are a great side, it will be tough for us. We will be looking after the game at the weekend and then be fully focused on that one.”

McGregor has struggled to scale the giddy heights that he did last season, when there was a campaign to have him called up by Scotland, and the increased competition for places at Celtic, with Eboue Kouassi starting to feature more, Charly Musonda arriving on loan and Patrick Roberts returning to training, will make reclaiming his first team place difficult.

However, the 24-year-old, who finally made his debut for the national team in the friendly against the Netherlands at Pittodrie back in November, feels it is beneficial for him to have some time out to rest given the intense brand of football which Rodgers wants his side to play.

“I feel good,” he said. “I’ve missed the last two games, but modern football’s about having a big squad and not everybody playing every week. So you’ve just got to be ready when the manager says you’re playing, then you’re in and you need to do well.

“The way we play, with high tempo and a high press, it’s impossible to play 60 games a season. That’s why we have a big squad, so that people can come in and freshen the team. That’s the game model the manager wants and it always stays at the same intensity.”

Rodgers is renowned for his man management and the positive demeanour of McGregor, who is currently warming the bench, suggests he has worked his magic with his young protege.

“The manager speaks to the players, myself included,” he said. “That’s one of the great things about him. He does it on a daily basis and, whether it’s just a two-minute chat or whatever, you always know where you stand. He’ll say whatever reason he’s got for pulling you out and then tells you to get back in. It’s just good to know that he’s talking to the players and everybody knows what’s required.

“Being a footballer, you want to play every game and play as many times as you can. So it’s a fine line between sitting ready to go and sitting and saying it’s fine to let the other boys play, obviously you don’t want to do that. You just need to make sure you’re right when you go back in.”

The games against Zenit St Petersburg, the first of which is at Parkhead on Thursday evening, are obviously of huge importance for McGregor and his Celtic team mates, but none of them is taking the encounter with a Partick Thistle side they toiled to overcome in the Premiership at Firhill last month lightly.

Having played in the epic Scottish Cup final win over Aberdeen at Hampden back in May, when Rodgers’s charges completed their clean sweep of trophies thanks to a last-minute Tom Rogic goal, he is determined for the holders to go through. “It’s important for us to get back to winning ways,” he said. “It’s a big competition for us. We want to do well in it.”