The latest FIFAPro report named our captain recently, but not in a good way. He was mentioned as one of those players who has taken part in the most competitive games in the last few years.
This is not a surprise to any Celtic fan who follows this stuff.
Callum has not had a proper break in a long, long time.
A regular for his country, an ever-present for his club, I cannot think of another footballer who has had such a marathon.
This summer should give him a chance to rest up, but that we’re still playing international football in June gives lie to that.
The one positive is that we will not have to play European qualifiers; Callum, however, faces World Cup games and, if Scotland progress, a horrible winter schedule.
The man himself has dismissed suggestions that he risks burnout.
He is a supreme athlete and as much as I admire his stamina and his commitment, his schedule would test even the fittest player. The risk is not his alone. Footballers are being pushed more than in living memory. Rampant greed in the form of European club football expansion means that those at the top of the game are playing more matches than they ever have.
There is no sign whatsoever that those at the top of the game take this matter seriously.
They cynically pass the responsibility onto the clubs, all the while knowing that managers who don’t play their best players every week are risking their jobs and seeing their clubs risk losing out on millions of pounds. In the meantime, those who rule football push more and more competitions and games onto the players themselves. It’s appalling.
I know Callum wants to play every week, and I know the manager wants him to.
The captain is always going to be a first-pick.
But FIFA and UEFA have been asked to take the matter out of their hands by actually imposing limits on how often footballers can be out on the pitch; think of it as some kind of Working Time Directive for the game.
Rather than punishing clubs and the players themselves though – which is what that proposal would ultimately do – it’s the governing bodies themselves who should be working to make sure that players don’t have to play too many matches, but greed and the lust for power has come before the welfare of footballers.
The recent suggestion about making the World Cup a biannual event is especially shocking because it would virtually eliminate any summer rest for footballers at all, and it’s a flat-out scandal that it was even proposed.
We are right to be concerned about our player, and about others in the squad who might face the same problems in the next couple of years. We had two players in our team this season who played a full season in Japan followed by a half a season in Scotland; it’s remarkable, and surely the last time anything like that will happen.
But it’s a sign of how the game has changed, and how bad it has gotten that this is not seen as something terribly unusual.
But it is definitely terrible, and should not be allowed.