CALLUM MCGREGOR says that there are no excuses for Celtic’s performance in their dismal derby defeat to Rangers, but he has promised the club’s supporters they will bounce back once again, just as they did last season.

McGregor accepts that Celtic’s display against their city rivals was unacceptable and acknowledges the backlash he and his teammates will now face as a result.

But he has pledged to do everything in his power to ensure that Celtic roar back from the defeat, just as they did when losing to Rangers at Celtic Park last December.

“When you lose a derby game there are questions asked and we have to face up to that,” McGregor said. “We did it in December and kicked on from there.

“So, we have to take that experience and learn from this defeat and go on a run.

“We have to take confidence from what happened last time. After losing we went on a great run after the new year.

“But I’m standing here disappointed right now and there’s no getting away from that. It’s a game we’ve lost at home to our biggest rivals and we can’t hide away from that. We know how bad a result it is.

“We have to take heart from the fact that we were without key players and see how there are still two thirds of the season to go. We have plenty of time to claw it back.

“The fans will be frustrated and as players we’re hugely disappointed. They have every right to point fingers and we have to accept that because in these games the bigger picture is never seen. There will be a massive reaction and we have to deal with that.

“What I would say is that we have to stay calm and we have to stay together. The sooner we can get [the fans] back into the stadiums too, the better, as they are a massive help to us.

“We have to keep the faith, trust the team and trust the manager and what we’re doing.

“We have been here a load of times before and have a load of experience. We are by no means out of it.

“We have guys in the changing room who have just lost their first derby and it’s a horrific experience. For the rest of us, it’s that same feeling.

“It’s up to the experienced boys, manager and backroom staff to get around them and stick together.”

The inquest will now begin inside the Celtic dressing room to ascertain what went wrong against Rangers, but the players have little time to feel sorry for themselves, with a massive Europa League tie against Milan looming on Thursday night.

“We all have to accept the responsibility when we don’t play well,” McGregor said.

“Internally we have to sort a few things and then we kick on. We really need to put our foot to the floor and the good thing is we have a massive game on Thursday to get up and running again. Then as big run of fixtures.

“These games are massive, but they probably don’t define the title for you.

“We just need to draw on our experience and hopefully by the end of the season we’re standing with another title.”

McGregor refused to use the lack of home advantage which would normally have been provided by 60,000 Celtic supporters as a reason for the team being so flat against Rangers.

“It probably made them feel as little bit more comfortable than what it would have been,” he said.

“But that’s the situation we’re in and it’s no excuse. We can’t look at that as we have to perform better on the pitch.

“When you lose an early goal, it sets you back in a big game.

“We spoke about our game plan and in the first 15 minutes we wanted to turn them and play in their half. If you don’t start these games well it can really hurt you.

“With the experience we have, if we don’t start well and go behind, it can be really difficult to get going again. So, I’d say that had an impact.

“They set up their game-plan and they carried it out well to win the game. For us, we have to be more on the front foot when it comes to these games. We’re a little bit in-between at the minute, albeit we were missing a lot of key players.”