{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"sport","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/tennis/andy-murray-tames-john-isner-s-serve-as-no-1-quest-goes-on-1-4272221","id":"1.4272221","articleHeadline": "Andy Murray tames John Isner’s serve as No 1 quest goes on","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477685843000 ,"articleLead": "

Andy Murray cruised past John Isner in straight sets in the Erste Bank Open quarter-finals to keep alive his quest to be the world No 1.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4272220.1477685806!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Andy Murray acknowledges the crowd during his quarter-final win over John Isner in Vienna. Picture: Ronald Zak/AP"} ,"articleBody": "

The Scot encountered few difficulties en route to a 6-1, 6-3 success over Isner in Vienna as the big American battled a hand injury during the 74 minutes the pair were out on court.

Murray will face defending champion David Ferrer today, knowing a tournament win in Austria, with a repeat at next week’s Paris Masters would see him reach the peak of the rankings for the first time in his career, as long as incumbent Novak Djokovic does not reach the final in France.

The top seed in Austria was given an early taste of 6ft 10in Isner’s greatest weapon as he delivered two aces from the first pair of points, though the fact he then had to save two break points suggested 
Murray would be afforded opportunities.

More break-point chances duly arrived and Murray, using the court’s depth to make Isner stoop to uncomfortable positions, claimed them to race to the first set in 27 minutes. It was sealed by an unforced Isner error, his 20th of the set to Murray’s one, and the 31-year-old complained about his grip as he took his seat between games.

The trainer was called for and he taped over a blister on Isner’s right palm, though Murray reeled off the first three games of the second set and was eyeing an early finish.

Isner finally won a game and pumped up the crowd in relief at doing so and he tested Murray’s own serve by going 0-40 up before the Scot dug deep to stave off the threat.

And, having experienced more hurdles in his previous two games, he will have been pleased to progress more routinely this time, with a glorious sliced backhand winner sealing the success.

At the WTA finals in Singapore, defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska booked a last-four meeting with world No 1 Angelique Kerber by ousting Karolina Pliskova in straight sets.

Radwanska and Pliskova knew that whoever emerged victorious in their group-stage clash in Singapore would advance to face Kerber today, and it was the former who 
triumphed 7-5, 6-3.

Although the Czech broke first in the opening set, the defending champion fought back and took it with a booming forehead return. Pliskova was up a break in the second set too but at 3-2 she lost four straight games to hand Radwanska a semi-final berth.

“I have nothing to lose at the moment; I’m going to play the best player this season,” Radwanska said after the match.

“She [Kerber] has played incredible tennis this year. It’s going to be a great challenge.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4272220.1477685806!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4272220.1477685806!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Andy Murray acknowledges the crowd during his quarter-final win over John Isner in Vienna. Picture: Ronald Zak/AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Andy Murray acknowledges the crowd during his quarter-final win over John Isner in Vienna. Picture: Ronald Zak/AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4272220.1477685806!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/celtic/kieran-tierney-out-for-2-months-with-ankle-ligament-damage-1-4272206","id":"1.4272206","articleHeadline": "Kieran Tierney out for 2 months with ankle ligament damage","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477684218000 ,"articleLead": "

Kieran Tierney has been ruled out of action for two months after suffering ankle ligament damage in training.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4272211.1477684181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kieran Tierney, seen in action against James Tavernier of Rangers, faces two months on the sidelines. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

The 19-year-old left back, who had already been ruled out of Celtic’s trip to Pittodrie tomorrow to face Aberdeen, will also miss Scotland’s trip to Wembley to play England.

Tierney will also miss the League Cup final against the Dons, as well as the Champions League group matches against Borussia Monchengladbach, Barcelona and Manchester City.

Emilio Izaguirre will likely reclaim the role he lost to the teenager last season.

Tierney had looked set to keep his place in the Scotland starting XI for the match against England, with Hull City defender Andrew Robertson unable to play due to a calf injury.

But Tierney could now be replaced by Rangers captain Lee Wallace with Strachan forced to reshuffle his pack ahead of the squad announcement.

Aberdeen defender Graeme Shinnie, Stephen Kingsley of Swansea City and former Dundee United full back Barry Douglas, now with Konyaspor in Turkey, are among Tierney’s likely replacements in Strachan’s squad.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4272211.1477684181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4272211.1477684181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Kieran Tierney, seen in action against James Tavernier of Rangers, faces two months on the sidelines. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kieran Tierney, seen in action against James Tavernier of Rangers, faces two months on the sidelines. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4272211.1477684181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4272205.1477683997!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4272205.1477683997!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tierney sustained the injury during training at Lennoxtown. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tierney sustained the injury during training at Lennoxtown. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4272205.1477683997!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/hearts/craig-fowler-bjorn-johnsen-deserves-start-with-misfiring-hearts-1-4272150","id":"1.4272150","articleHeadline": "Craig Fowler: Bjorn Johnsen deserves start with misfiring Hearts","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477675724000 ,"articleLead": "

In 11 games this season, Hearts’ four first-team strikers - Bjorn Johnsen, Robbie Muirhead, Conor Sammon and Tony Watt - have scored exactly three goals. One each for Johnsen, Sammon and Watt, zero for Muirhead.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4272149.1477675681!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts' Bjorn Johnson missed a good chance against Kilmarnock but is expected to start against Inverness. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

As bad a record as this may be, Hearts fans have become oddly used to their front men failing to find the target in recent years. In what must be a re-balancing of the universe, ever since John Robertson finally left the club in 1998, they’ve struggled to find a consistent marksmen in attack. No player has hit 20 in a single season since Robertson - Hibs, by comparison, have had three - while on six separate occasions no forward managed to reach double-figures.

Of course, football has changed in recent years. No longer is the striker there just to score goals.Now they’re at the centre of the attack rather than just the finish. They’ve to facilitate, link with others, upset centre halves, open up space, close down opponents, and so much more. With the extra workload, goals become harder to come by. It’s rare to find a striker who does all that and still scores regularly.

It means you can have a productive team even if the striker rarely finds the back of the net. In three of the last eight seasons, no Hearts striker has scored more than three goals. (You could also include the 2013-14 campaign, but they didn’t have one on the books for the first half of the term, and even after then Paul McCallum barely qualified.) In every one of those seasons, Hearts finished in the top six. In one instance they finished third; in another they won the Scottish Cup.

This season was following a similar pattern, but the loss of Sam Nicholson to injury (the winger, with four goals, had scored more than the forwards put together) gives Robbie Neilson a problem to solve. Prior to this, the head coach would switch between a 4-4-2 and a 4-2-3-1, which depended on the personnel (if Walker and Nicholson both played) and how deep he would allow Watt to drop and link with the rest of the midfield. Now, with limited options to choose from out-wide - and of what’s left, Walker barely even qualifies - he’s been forced to select a 4-4-2 with a centre midfielder, typically Arnaud Djoum, out on the right. It now falls on the strikers to carry the burden.

Though typically more lethal than he’s shown this term, Watt has never been a consistent scorer throughout his career. You can see why when you watch him. He likes to drop deep and does his best work by running with the ball, creating havoc and drawing defenders towards him. Sammon, aside from a mad six months at Kilmarnock where he couldn’t stop banging them in, has always struggled for goals. Muirhead is still a young player, but similar to Watt he likes to drift away from the penalty area.

Furthermore, a flat midfield in a 4-4-2 doesn’t complement at least two of the Hearts midfield. Captain Perry Kitchen, though still good enough to play the role, is more suited to playing defensive midfield rather than being a No.8. While Jamie Walker looks increasingly more comfortable in the centre rather than out wide. So much so that he often drifts into a central position rather than keep the shape.

It all led to a poor performance in the loss to Kilmarnock, a team previously winless in front of their own fans. Neilson tried to address the situation midway through the first half, going 4-2-3-1 with Sammon out wide, Watt as the No.9 and Djoum in behind. Safe to say, it didn’t work. In fact, Hearts probably got worse. They only really threatened the Kilmarnock goal when Johnsen came on after 62 minutes, not long before the second goal.

Nobody knows exactly what to make of the Norwegian/American to this point. He has some terrific attributes. He’s 6ft 5in, strong, technical and fast. Occasionally he’s shown intelligent movement and taken some silky smooth touches. Then there are times where he seems unfamiliar with the rules of offside and the ball bounces off him whenever he attempts to control.

Fans who only saw the quick two-minute highlights, which included Johnsen’s baffling miss, would have been confused this morning to see Neilson touting the striker for a start against Inverness CT. However, having watched the full game back, there’s no doubt he improved the Hearts attack after he came on. His presence allowed the ball to stick when the visitors went direct, and he executed an excellent run, touch and cross not long after his introduction, which should have led to a goal had any Hearts player in the centre gambled on a ball coming in.

He’s needed time to acclimatise to Scottish football. His scuffed shot on the turn from four yards which trickled into the arms of Jamie MacDonald would suggest he’s not fully up to speed yet. But Hearts need someone to step up and be a regular source of goals if this season is to reach it’s fullest potential. With Rangers struggling and Aberdeen within reach, the Hearts support want a second place finish. Maybe it’s time to unleash the enigmatic frontman. As the statistics tell us, it wouldn’t hurt to try.

Click here for the latest results, fixtures and stats>>>

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4272149.1477675681!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4272149.1477675681!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts' Bjorn Johnson missed a good chance against Kilmarnock but is expected to start against Inverness. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts' Bjorn Johnson missed a good chance against Kilmarnock but is expected to start against Inverness. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4272149.1477675681!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/celtic/new-date-announced-for-celtic-fixture-1-4272046","id":"1.4272046","articleHeadline": "New date announced for Celtic fixture","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477667851000 ,"articleLead": "

The SPFL has announced a new date for Celtic’s home Ladbrokes Premiership fixture against St Johnstone.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4272045.1477667815!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Celtic and St Johnstone will meet again in January. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

The sides will now meet at Celtic Park on Tuesday 24 January next year.

The game was originally scheduled to take place on Saturday 26 November but was postponed due to Celtic’s involvment in the Betfred Cup final.

The Parkhead side will meet Aberdeen in the final at Hampden on 17 November.

Celtic and St Johnstone have already met this season, with Brendan Rodgers’ side winning 4-2 in Perth in August.

Click here for the latest results, fixtures and stats>>>

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4272045.1477667815!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4272045.1477667815!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Celtic and St Johnstone will meet again in January. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Celtic and St Johnstone will meet again in January. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4272045.1477667815!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/horse-racing/david-pipe-among-top-trainers-with-runners-at-ayr-1-4272006","id":"1.4272006","articleHeadline": "David Pipe among top trainers with runners at Ayr","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477666230000 ,"articleLead": "

Leading stables are sending horses to Ayr hoping to plunder the good prize money on offer at Tennent’s Raceday.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4272005.1477666193!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Trainer David Pipe has sent Mango Cap north from Devon for the second race at Ayr. Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The feature is the Class 2 £25,000 Tennent’s Cup Scottish Champion Hurdle Trial Handicap Hurdle over two miles at 4.55 pm.

Top weight is the Dan Skelton-trained Work In Progress who was last seen finishing eighth in a similar contest at the Cheltenham Festival. Newberry New runs for the first time for Harriet Bethell. The four year-old won a maiden hurdle at Gowran Park and a Grade 3 juvenile hurdle at Fairyhouse earlier in the year when trained by Jessica Harrington in Ireland. Nicky Richards intends to run Mardale who will have the help of champion conditional jockey Craig Nichol in the saddle.

The Tennent’s Black T Handicap Hurdle has 12 going to post including Presenting Rose from the Nick Alexander yard and David Pipe’s Mango Cap, travelling from Devon.

The first race at 2.05 pm is a two-mile maiden hurdle with the favourite Master Of Finance.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4272005.1477666193!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4272005.1477666193!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Trainer David Pipe has sent Mango Cap north from Devon for the second race at Ayr. Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Trainer David Pipe has sent Mango Cap north from Devon for the second race at Ayr. Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4272005.1477666193!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/competitions/premiership/scottish-football-mailbag-scott-brown-s-u-turn-judging-hartley-s-signings-what-next-for-rangers-1-4271918","id":"1.4271918","articleHeadline": "Scottish football mailbag: Scott Brown’s U-turn | Judging Hartley’s signings | What next for Rangers?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477662951000 ,"articleLead": "

Craig Fowler answers your questions on Scottish football, including Scott Brown’s potential return to the Scotland set-up, Paul Hartley’s signings at Dundee, and where next for Rangers.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271917.1477662914!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Having walked away, should Scott Brown come back? Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Click here for the latest results, fixtures and stats>>>

@odneJ: Here goes: Scott Brown should stay retired. Discuss.

In a word: yeah.

Who benefits from this? Scotland will be better with him in the team, but not significantly better. Instead of a 3-0 defeat at Wembley, it might now be 2-0 or 2-1. The chances of us pulling off an upset have increased from, like, 10 per cent to 15. Is that enough for him to come out of retirement?

Personally, I’m not a big fan of the whole retiring from international football thing. However, as evidenced by the likes of Paul Scholes, it can add years on to a club career. Choosing not to play for your country is a selfish move, but footballers have the right to make that decision. They only get one chance at a career and even if they’re really good it’s over before they’re 40. International careers don’t add to the retirement fund. Quite the opposite, in some instances.

Brown said he felt his body wasn’t getting sufficient time to rest and that’s why he chose to quit Scotland. The season so far has proved his theory correct. He does a power of work on and off the ball and if he’s not at 100 per cent, his game can really struggle. Besides, if he goes back to the form he showed last season, including his appearances for Scotland, then the national team shouldn’t want him in the side anyway.

With or without Brown, Scotland aren’t making it to Russia. If he really believes playing with the national team is a hindrance to his club career, he’s better off staying retired.

@RossP_ICT: With the #banteryears showing no sign of halting - what can we expect to see next from Rangers on and off the pitch?

Off the pitch, I have no idea. Call me a pathetic excuse for a journalist, but the thought of poring over Rangers’ accounts for hours seems like my idea of hell. I’d rather watch the full 90 minutes of their game with St Johnstone, looking at their shape and tactical approach, because I’m super-cool like that.

On the pitch, it’s still difficult to judge. They won’t get anywhere close to Celtic this season. It just isn’t happening. The quality of their squad is similar to the likes of Aberdeen and Hearts, while Brendan Rodgers’ side are in a league of their own. However, I still believe they can finish second if they somehow figure out a consistent starting XI. They’re only two points off Aberdeen despite failing to play particularly well in any game this season. It’s more than likely the Dons have already shown their best hand in terms of squad selection, at least until January. If Rangers can hang around long enough until they discover some cohesion in attack, they could go on a run that will take them into second.

The issue with making such a presumption is that they’ve played 10 league games to this point, more than a quarter of the season, and don’t look any closer to solving the puzzle. If Warburton continues to chop and change, and the slow, ponderous play of Wednesday night remains a consistent theme, then they’ll continue to look upwards at Hearts, Aberdeen and possibly St Johnstone, and may well make a change of manager.

EckStevson: Why do pundits almost never criticise and actually stick up for clueless managers but tear into referees?

There are three reasons:

1) You never need a referee for a story.

Though not as often as press journalists, pundits will sometimes have to interact with managers. Any human being will tell you, it’s hard to slaughter someone once you’ve had a face-to-face interaction with them, or you’re going to have one in the future. There’s rarely a scenario where pundits will have to talk to referees as part of their job.

2) They’re old pals.

Nepotism is rife within football, particularly Scottish football. If a pundit knows the manager in question, say they used to play together, they’re not going to criticise their old mate. There’s also the pundits who believe it’s disrespectful to undermine professionals, yet think nothing of taking money from the public to say nothing of interest.

3) Lack of knowledge.

Pundits see headlines like “Dundee sell Hemmings and Stewart” and make a snap judgement. “How are they supposed to succeed when the club is selling their best players?” they’ll ask. In the United instance, there was even the “young team” narrative, even though some of the opponents beating them had a younger average age.

@jimdou77: Kenny McLean - under-rated metronome in the Dons midfield, or under-achieving 6/10 regular?

Do you know what? I really don’t know. I go back and forth on McLean just about every month, and it’s probably got something to do with his position in the Aberdeen team. Mainly, he hasn’t got one.

McLean, in my opinion, was at his best with St Mirren as a No.8 in a 4-4-2, tasked with contributing to both ends of the attack. There was an onus on him to make things happen as he was, arguably, the most talented player in the dressing room. At Aberdeen there’s less emphasis to take games by the scruff of the neck and I’m not sure it’s brought the best out of him.

He doesn’t score enough goals from open play to be a top class No.10. Further back he can do the screener role, keeping possession ticking over, but it limits what he can bring to a team. He has looked better recently, playing alongside Graeme Shinnie as the sitting-midfield duo. Shinnie does a lot of the dirty work, which allows McLean to use his range of passing and break forward when the opportunity arises. Perhaps they’ve finally found his role within the team, though the return of Ryan Jack already puts such a prognosis in jeopardy.

@albinoanaconda: My question is: how many of Paul Hartley’s 40+ signings for Dundee have been a success?

These guys: Darren O’Dea, Kane Hemmings, Greg Stewart, Paul McGinn, Stephen McGinn, Gary Harkins, Paul McGowan, David Clarkson, Scott Bain, James McPake

There’s a couple in there that are getting the benefit of the doubt, while Stephen McGinn was a short-term signing who quickly returned to England when a better offer came in. So, it’s 10 out of 43. You could maybe include Kevin Gomis, who does have something about him and is potentially being dragged down by his team-mates, though his form has been poor in recent weeks.

It’s eerily similar to Jackie McNamara’s time at Dundee United. Takes over midway through one season, signs a couple of terrific players that summer (three in Hartley’s case – Bain being the other), enjoys unexpected success, comes back down to earth a little the following campaign, then the stars leave and the house of cards come crashing down.

There is no doubt Dundee would not be struggling to this extent if they still had Hemmings and Stewart. But Scottish football is all about rebuilding. Teams lose their best players most seasons. Recruitment is vital and, overall, Hartley has struggled in that regard.

@RFBorthwick: Has Tony Watt’s ability to score goals been magically extracted from him like the NBA stars in Space Jam?

Tony Watt has never really been much of a regular goalscorer throughout his career, other than his initial spell in Belgium. A more intriguing question could be whether Conor Sammon became a member of The Monstars for six months back in 2010/11, and whose talents did he steal before Lionel Messi gave it back via a magic football?

@MichaelWood_SJ: Giving that the Jags have been in no threat of relegation since being promoted: Is Alan Archibald underrated as a manager?

He’s maybe a little underrated. He gets his fair share of credit for getting Thistle to the top flight and keeping them there, which was something I thought only John Lambie was capable of prior to Archibald’s tenure.

He’s never reached the top six, however, which puts him behind the likes of Tommy Wright in the overachieving stakes, and he’s failed to make a series impact on the cup competitions through his tenure. Success in knockout competitions is never a great way to judge a manager, as it’s such a small sample size compared with the main body of work, but that seems to be the way English clubs are usually alerted to our managers. Therefore, he’s more underrated south of the border, where you’re unlikely to meet an average fan who’s ever heard of Alan Archibald.

@MidasForTheGold: Dearest Dr Craig, should managers who are about to be sacked be allowed to sign tall strikers with no ability?

It’s a difficult situation. On one hand, if you have a manager who’s struggled in the transfer market, it seems bewildering to allow him to sign more players when his job is on the line. On the other hand, if you’re stopping a manager from signing a player, if there’s room in the budget to bring them in, you may as well sack them right there and then. Whether or not it’s right for the chairman to keep faith in the manager is irrelevant, if they believe the boss can still turn it around, they have to back them when it comes to player recruitment.

@MarcJWallace: Which manager will go first? McGhee or Hartley?

If you’re a betting man, you’d have to go with Hartley. He’s already under severe pressure. Although, you do raise an interesting possibility. Motherwell have struggled so far this season. The loss of Marvin Johnson has forced Mark McGhee into returning to the drawing board as he attempts to come up with a new system.

Last term, they struggled, even after McGhee replaced Iain Baraclough, until they began to use the 4-3-3 with Scott McDonald, Louis Moult and Johnson as an interchangeable front three. They’ve tried it this campaign with summer signing Ryan Bowman coming in, but they miss Johnson’s drive. Currently sitting second bottom in the table, if results don’t improve soon then pressure will switch to the Motherwell boss.

READ MORE - Rumour Mill: Brown to make Scotland return | Barton nears Rangers exit | Celtic ‘a hard club to leave’

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271917.1477662914!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271917.1477662914!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Having walked away, should Scott Brown come back? Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Having walked away, should Scott Brown come back? Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271917.1477662914!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/david-law-and-duncan-stewart-set-for-last-round-challenge-tour-title-bid-1-4271874","id":"1.4271874","articleHeadline": "David Law and Duncan Stewart set for last-round Challenge Tour title bid","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477661245000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish duo Duncan Stewart and David Law are set to go out with all guns blazing in tomorrow’s final round of the inaugural Ras Al Khaimah Challenge in the United Arab Emirates.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271873.1477661207!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Law is just three shots off the lead heading into the last day of the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The pair have matched each other every step of the way so far at Al Hamra Golf Club and will now head out together on the last day with the leader, Swede Marcus Kinhult, in their sights.

Sitting on 13-under following rounds of 68, 69 and 66 - both birdied the last in the latter effort - Stewart and Law are just three of the pace in joint-fifth as they chase different targets in the Challenge Tour’s penultimate event of the season.

Stewart has already secured his step up to the European Tour next season, having amassed sufficient earnings to guarantee a top-15 finish in the Road to Oman after next week’s Grand Final.

The 32-year-old came into this event sitting ninth on the money-list, but the higher he finishes the better when it comes to getting into some of the bigger European Tour events.

“It’s been an incredible year and keeps getting better,” admitted Stewart, who laid the foundations by winning in Madrid early in the season and has backed that up with five top-10 finishes.

“It is weird considering position I was in this time last year,” added the Edinburgh-based player of getting a job as a delivery van driver at the end of a disappointing 2015 campaign.

“I’ve got the World Cup coming up (Russell Knox has picked his old college team-mate to represent Scotland in Australia) then a couple of events on the main Tour before Christmas.”

On another low-scoring day in the UAE, Stewart was seven-under through 14 holes, then dropped shots at the 15th and 16th before making a 4 at the last.

“I played really good,” he said. “I drove it solid, my wedge play was really good, my chipping was good and I holed some nice putts.

“I’m a little disappointed about 15th and 16th, but you can’t really expect to play perfect the whole round and I made a good up and down at 17th before the birdie at the last.

“I felt at the start of the week that this course was going to suit me. I’ve been aiming straight at every flag and so far it has worked.”

For Law, his main target at the start of the week was climbing from 82nd in the Road to Oman into the top 70 so that he gets into the final stage of the European Tour Qualifying School.

However, should he finish second outright, the 25-year-old Aberdonian will leap into the top 45 on the money-list and thereby get into the Grand Final in Muscat.

“Top 70 is the big goal right now so that I can make Qualifying School, but it would also be nice obviously if I could make it to next week,” admitted Law, a two-time Scottish Amateur champion.

His best finish of the season was tied eighth in Switzerland back in early June but he added: “I’ve been playing a bit better the last month or so and have played pretty good all week here.

“It’s a good course and I’m enjoying it. There’s not too much trouble so you need to be aggressive.

“You’re not going to shoot one or two-under and stay where you are. You need to keep going four, five or six-under par.

“The last few weeks I’ve had the attitude that anything is a bonus. I’m playing a bit better golf for it.

“I will be a wee bit more nervous tomorrow, but that’s only natural.”

It was also another good day for Grant Forrest, who is making his first appearance as a professional on the Challenge Tour.

The 23-year-old from North Berwick recovered from being two-over after six to card a three-under 68 and sits joint-17th on nine-under.

Scott Henry, who is already guaranteed his spot at the Grand Final, had a 70 for seven-under while Ross Kellett edged closer to making it to Muscat, too.

Sitting 46th on the money-list at the start of the event, the Motherwell man had a 69 for six-under and now needs a strong last round to extend his Challenge Tour campaign by another week.

Kinult, who sits 68th on the Road to Oman and needs a top-three finish to jump above Kellett, carded a bogey-free 65 for 16-under and holds a two-shot cushion over English duo Max Orrin and Jordan Smith as well as Spaniard Pedro Oriol.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271873.1477661207!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271873.1477661207!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Law is just three shots off the lead heading into the last day of the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Law is just three shots off the lead heading into the last day of the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271873.1477661207!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/scotland/scotland-camp-excited-over-potential-scott-brown-return-1-4271678","id":"1.4271678","articleHeadline": "Scotland camp excited over potential Scott Brown return","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477651915000 ,"articleLead": "

Mark McGhee believes Scott Brown’s return to Gordon Strachan’s line-up is just the boost Scotland need to kick-start their flagging World Cup hopes.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271677.1477651879!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scott Brown is considering a return to the Scotland squad. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

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It emerged on Friday that Celtic skipper Brown was considering a shock comeback at Wembley, just two months after announcing his international retirement.

And assistant manager McGhee confirmed that Brown had performed a U-turn on his decision - revealing it was “100 per cent” the midfielder’s decision to return to action for his country.

The former national team captain has been in scintillating form for the Hoops this term, rediscovering his best form under the guidance of new Parkhead boss Brendan Rodgers.

But while Brown, 31, has enjoyed a rampant start to the domestic campaign and a stand-out display in Celtic’s recent Champions League clash with Manchester City, his old Scotland colleagues have not had it so easy.

Strachan’s side have taken just four points from their opening three qualifiers and head south to face England in London next month knowing defeat will realistically kill off any lingering ambitions of making it to Russia in 2018.

However Motherwell boss McGhee - who doubles as Strachan’s number two - feels Brown has just handed Scotland the perfect pick-me-up ahead of facing the ‘Auld Enemy’ on November 11.

Asked if his return would be the boost the team are looking for, McGhee said: “I think it is. It certainly is for me. When Gordon told me, I felt it was a big positive. I was delighted.

“I would imagine that when England look at our team, they would prefer Scott Brown not to be playing.

“We have a better chance of getting a result with ‘Broony’ than without him.”

Brown announced he was hanging up his international boots back in August after deciding to prioritise his Celtic career.

The midfielder looked a shadow of his former self at times last term as he struggled with tendonitis in both hamstrings.

But he has been back to his best this term and McGhee is thrilled by the prospect of him once again donning a dark blue jersey.

He said: “He is arguably the best player in Scotland right now. Certainly he’s the best Scottish player.

“If we have the best players available it will only help us.

“Scott’s a great player. Arguably in the last campaign he was our most significant player.

“I was disappointed when he announced his retirement. He has that character that drives other people, that glues people on the pitch together. He’s a leader.

“My understanding is that it was 100 per cent initiated by Scott. It was him revising his decision really and him thinking he has more to give.

“It looks to me as if he has coped better with the European campaign and the league games and feels good about himself, that he feels like he can do both at this stage.

“We’re seeing a player who is playing very well under a new manager. I would imagine his reinvigoration is down to Brendan rather than missing a couple of international games.

“The manager seems to have given him a fresh lease of life.”

Brown spoke to the media on Thursday ahead of his club side’s top-of-the-table clash with Aberdeen on Saturday.

But he remained coy about his thoughts on Scotland when questioned by reporters.

Asked if he had any regrets ahead of the England game, Brown both sighed and laughed as he said: “I’ll enjoy watching that game. Here’s hoping Scotland do really well down there.

“It will be another great occasion to be fair and I just wish Gordon all the best.”

READ MORE - Rumour Mill: Brown to make Scotland return | Barton nears Rangers exit | Celtic ‘a hard club to leave’

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271677.1477651879!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271677.1477651879!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scott Brown is considering a return to the Scotland squad. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scott Brown is considering a return to the Scotland squad. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271677.1477651879!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/russell-knox-thrilled-to-stay-in-contention-in-shanghai-1-4271575","id":"1.4271575","articleHeadline": "Russell Knox ‘thrilled’ to stay in contention in Shanghai","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477647835000 ,"articleLead": "

Russell Knox, the defending champion, was “thrilled” to remain in contention at the halfway stage in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271574.1477647799!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Russell Knox is sitting three shots off the lead in joint-second in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The 31-year-old backed up his opening 66 with an equally solid 68 in breezy conditions at Sheshan International to sit on 10-under-par.

He’s lying joint-second, three shots behind Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama after he stormed to the top of the leaderboard with a best-of-the-day 65.

Knox is alongside American Bill Haas (67) while world No 3 Rory McIlroy also moved into contention as a 66 left him on seven-under.

“I had a couple of chances there at the end, which I would have loved to have made,” said Knox of good birdie opportunites at the 16th and 18th.

“But every shot was very difficult after it started raining, so I’m thrilled with four under.”

Two behind overnight leader Rikard Karlberg at the start of the day, the Scot birdied the second before dropping his only shot of the event so far with a 5 at the third.

In much tougher conditions than the opening day, he then picked up three birdies in four holes from the fifth to be out in 33 before continuing his excellent title defence with a 2 at the 12th

“It was a little cold, but I’m built for this,” added Knox, who is bidding to become only the second player following Tiger Woods to defend a WGC title.

“As much as I would say I don’t enjoy playing in this weather, I’m good at it. I hope it’s like this at the weekend.

“You have to try and find your edge when it’s like that. If you have a good attitude when the weather gets bad, you can maybe pick up half a shot mentally.”

World No 10 Matsuyama won the Japan Open earlier this month then finished runner-up to Justin Thomas in the PGA Tour’s CIMB Classic in Malaysia last weekend.

The 24-year-old started his second round with a bogey before carding nine birdies, including four in five holes from the tenth.

“It was starting to get windy during the warm up this morning and I thought maybe a couple under par would be a good score. So I’m really happy with how it ended up today,” admitted the leader.

“It was tough out there, but I hit some good second shots and made some putts, and that’s what made it a good round.

“I’ve played here before and haven’t done well at all, so this is a nice surprise for me. I’m not sure what has made the difference. Maybe it’s my attitude - I’m having fun and enjoying myself.”

McIlroy, who’d struggled on the greens in the opening round, made the day’s significant move as he found his putting touch to make seven birdies.

“I feel like I actually hit the ball pretty similarly the first two days, but I just holed a few more putts today and was able to take advantage of some of the good drives that I was hitting,” said the world No 3.

“A 66 in these conditions is pretty good out there, and it looks like from the way the leaderboard is, I’m going to need a couple more scores like that to have any chance.”

The four-time major winner reckons he needs a win in the final few weeks of the season to top the Race to Dubai and complete the double, having already claimed the FedEx Cup this year.

“My game feels really good, it really does,” he added. “Hopefully I can have a good weekend here. There’s still a lot to play for this year and I will try to really give myself a chance to win another Race to Dubai.”

Italian Francesco Molinari, the 2010 winner, jumped to a share of fourth place on eight-under with England’s Richard Bland (68) and American Daniel Berger (70).

Unable to reproduce the sparkling golf in his opening effort, Karlberg slipped 12 spots to joint-13th after a 75.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271574.1477647799!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271574.1477647799!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Russell Knox is sitting three shots off the lead in joint-second in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Russell Knox is sitting three shots off the lead in joint-second in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271574.1477647799!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/celtic/brendan-rodgers-titles-are-never-given-out-in-october-1-4271407","id":"1.4271407","articleHeadline": "Brendan Rodgers: Titles are never given out in October","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477639307000 ,"articleLead": "

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers will not start thinking about titles if his side go 10 points clear on Saturday.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271406.1477639271!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Celtic can go 10 points clear this Saturday. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

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The reigning Ladbrokes Premiership champions will stretch their lead into double figures, with a game in hand, if they beat second-placed Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

But Rodgers said: “There has never been a title given out in October.

“It marks the opening period of the season. It will be our 10th league game and up until this point we have made a good start.

“A lot of other teams will have something to say about that. There is still a very long way to go, we are not even a third of the way through.”

Celtic made a major statement on Wednesday night when a team showing eight changes won 4-0 against Ross County in Dingwall while their four nearest rivals all failed to win in midweek, Aberdeen losing at Hamilton.

“I said when I came in that we would assess it after 10 games,” Rodgers said. “We have won eight of nine games, drawn the other game but we should have won. We should be sat here with nine out of nine wins.

“After this game we will assess it but the players are really performing at a good level so early in the season.

“We respect the qualities of Aberdeen. They have good players, play a lot of the game on the counter-attack, play direct at times, play some good football, and they will be hoping they can pick up from the disappointment during the week.

“But our main focus is on ourselves and we have shown in the early part of the season, if we get our side of the game right, we can be a threat to teams.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271406.1477639271!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271406.1477639271!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Celtic can go 10 points clear this Saturday. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Celtic can go 10 points clear this Saturday. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271406.1477639271!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/celtic/brendan-rodgers-on-tactical-growth-of-stuart-armstrong-1-4271408","id":"1.4271408","articleHeadline": "Brendan Rodgers on tactical growth of Stuart Armstrong","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477639307000 ,"articleLead": "

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has backed Stuart Armstrong to make his mark in central midfield for club and country.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271405.1477639270!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Stuart Armstrong fires Celtic two goals ahead against Ross County. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

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Armstrong started and scored in Celtic’s 4-0 victory over Ross County on Wednesday night as one of two central midfielders behind an attacking four, after impressing off the bench during Sunday’s Betfred Cup win over Rangers.

Rodgers admitted he has worked on the 24-year-old’s confidence and tactical knowledge since arriving in the summer ahead of the midfielder’s second full season at Parkhead.

“He has played a lot of his time here on the left side, which I can understand why maybe managers would play him there, because he is very diligent and works well and he has an eye for goal,” Rodgers said.

“But we spoke to him a lot in pre-season in terms of his position and where he felt most comfortable, and at that time it was maybe difficult for him to get a game in his preferred position.

“But what he has done, each day from that, he has looked to improve and understand the tactical element of playing on the inside. He’s got a wonderful intelligence. He’s a good footballer, Stuart, and he’s improving tactically all the time.

“Technically he is strong, his finish on Wednesday night I see in training every day. He has a wonderful strike in him, different types of finishes.

“Physically he is very good. Our first goal came from his ability to press the ball very quickly, and his goal, he spotted the space and showed great speed.”

Rodgers believes Armstrong should occupy any of the three central midfield positions, including an advanced role, rather than a wide position.

And he feels he can get to the level where his first Scotland cap is in sight. The former Dundee United player won his first call-up in June 2013 but has never featured and has not been in Gordon Strachan’s recent squads.

“He has come into one of the biggest clubs in the world and it sometimes takes that little bit of time to find your feet,” Rodgers said.

“But he has definitely found his feet, he is a player I really enjoy working with, he is super-bright and thinks about the game and his role in the team.

“He is starting to flourish now and it’s down to him, getting the confidence to play the role, understand his job. Anywhere centrally where he can use his power and pace to break forward, that’s his best position. Hopefully over the coming years you will really see the best of him.

“If he keeps improving and showing those levels, there is absolutely no question he is a player that can feature for his national team.”

Armstrong was one of eight players to come into the starting line-up in Dingwall as Rodgers utilised his squad ahead of trips to Aberdeen and Monchengladbach in the following six days.

Cristian Gamboa, Emilio Izaguirre, Patrick Roberts, Ryan Christie, Liam Henderson, Callum McGregor and Leigh Griffiths all earned starts and Rodgers was delighted with the way they responded.

“The players that are not playing so regularly are not down,” he said. “They obviously want to play football but they go into every training session giving their maximum and that means the tempo and quality of our training is at high level.

“So it allows them to go into a game at a difficult venue and help get a great result. It probably demonstrates the trust in the squad I have here.

“It reinforces the professionalism. Because it’s very easy to look after the ones that are playing but our job here as coaches and management is to ensure the players are not featuring so much fell very much part of it. That allows them to be motivated and committed to what we want to achieve this year.

“If they are not working hard, not looking after their diet, not preparing themselves well, then you can’t go into that game and make that many changes and play with that level of intensity. So it’s a huge credit to them and how they are looking after themselves and resting and recovering and training.”

READ MORE - Rumour Mill: Brown to make Scotland return | Barton nears Rangers exit | Celtic ‘a hard club to leave’

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271405.1477639270!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271405.1477639270!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Stuart Armstrong fires Celtic two goals ahead against Ross County. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Stuart Armstrong fires Celtic two goals ahead against Ross County. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271405.1477639270!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/8am-round-up-russell-knox-still-in-hunt-in-shanghai-1-4271391","id":"1.4271391","articleHeadline": "8am Round-Up: Russell Knox still in hunt in Shanghai","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477638297000 ,"articleLead": "

Defending champion Russell Knox remained in contention on the second day of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271390.1477638260!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Russell Knox during the second round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The 31-year-old, who is bidding to become just the second player after Tiger Woods to successfully defend a WGC title, had moved from six-under overnight to 10-under with five holes to play at Sheshen International.

Knox, who won with a 20-under total on the same course 12 months ago, birdied the second before dropping his first shot of the event with a 5 at the third.

In breezy conditions, he then picked up three birdies in four holes from the fifth to be out in 33 before continuing his excellent title defence with a 2 at the 12th.

The clubhouse target had been set by Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama after he backed up a first-day 66 with a 65 to sit on 13-under.

World No 3 Rory McIroy jumped up the leaderboard after a 66 to sit seven-under.


Colin Montgomerie sets out in fourth spot as the inaugural Charles Schwab Cup Play-Offs get underway in California today.

The Scot jumped up the rankings after winning in Canada a month ago but has his work cut out to catch runaway leader Bernhard Langer in the three end-of-season events.

Montgomerie is in the second last group for the opening round of the Power Shares QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks.

Senior Open champion Paul Broadhurst also has two Americans - Jay Haas and Brandt Jobe - for company.

Langer, who won the Charles Schwab Cup for the second season in a row and third time in total last year, is out with his two nearest challengers, Joe Durant and Miguel Angel Jimenez.


Irishman Seamus Power opened with a flawless seven-under-par 65 to sit just two shots behind leader Kevin Streelman after the opening round of the PGA Tour’s Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi.

Streelaman signed for 10 birdies as he set a hot pace in Jackson, where English duo Greg Owen and Ian Poulter carded 67 and 70 respectively.


Catriona Matthew is set for a rare missed cut on the LPGA Tour despite a big second-round improvement in the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.

The Scot, who’d opened with a 75, was one-over after 17 holes in Kuala Lumpur, where Amy Yang had set the pace with a 63.


Vikki Laing’s hopes of making it to the weekend in the LET’S Sanya Ladies Open were dashed by a second-round 78 in China this morning.

The Scot had opened with a 73 but was set to make an early exit along with compatriot Carly Booth (77-76).

With Laura Murray and Pamela Pretswell still playing their second rounds, former Ladies Scottish Open champion Gwladys Nocera secured a share of the clubhouse lead on six-under.


Long-serving Edzell pro Alistaur Webster and Carnoustie amateur Scott Robertson shot matching one-over-par 74s to share top spot in the Midland Golfers’ Alliance at Drumoig.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271390.1477638260!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271390.1477638260!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Russell Knox during the second round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Russell Knox during the second round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271390.1477638260!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/competitions/premiership/rumour-mill-brown-to-make-scotland-return-barton-nears-rangers-exit-celtic-a-hard-club-to-leave-1-4271387","id":"1.4271387","articleHeadline": "Rumour Mill: Brown to make Scotland return | Barton nears Rangers exit | Celtic ‘a hard club to leave’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477637780000 ,"articleLead": "

Scott Brown could be set to make a shock return to the Scotland squad, Joey Barton nears the exit door at Ibrox after Rangers suspended the midfielder indefinitely, and Brendan Rodgers backed the likes of Moussa Dembele to remain at Celtic.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271386.1477640591!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scott Brown is considering a surprising return to the Scotland squad. Picture: Phil Wilkinson"} ,"articleBody": "

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Brown to make Scots return

Scott Brown could be about to make a sensational return to the Scotland squad ahead of next month’s crunch World Cup qualifier with England at Wembley.

The Celtic midfielder announced his international retirement earlier this summer, citing strenuous demands of playing for both club and country.

However, it is now understood the 31-year-old is in discussions with boss Gordon Strachan about a potential comeback and may be named in the squad to face England, which will be announced next week. (Daily Record)

Barton nears Rangers exit

Joey Barton’s Rangers career is all but over after the club decided to extend the midfielder’s ban indefinitely following a disciplinary meeting between both parties yesterday.

Barton was initially suspended by the club six weeks ago for a training ground row with manager Mark Warburton.

It is understood that Rangers will not sack their controversial player, with a January move back down south being touted as the most likely scenario to occur. (Evening Times)

Rodgers backs Dembele to stay

Brendan Rodgers believes Celtic should be able to hold on to the likes of Moussa Dembele and Scott Sinclair, insisting the club is “very, very hard to leave”.

The Ladbrokes Premiership league leaders are unbeaten in domestic competition, including reaching the Betfred Cup final, and qualified for the Champions League group stage.

It’s led to a number of players being linked with big clubs in England and on the continent. And while Rodgers admits a hefty wage packet would tempt any star, the club are doing their best to make Parkhead and Lennoxtown an enjoyable environment for players to earn their living. (Daily Mail)

Keatings feared season was over

Hibs striker James Keatings today revealed how he feared his season was over as he felt his left knee “explode” only minutes after paving the way for the club’s first win in six matches.

Keatings had just seen his shot deflect off Dunfermline midfielder Nat Wedderburn and into the Pars net – cancelling out Kallum Higginbotham’s earlier opener at East End Park – when he went for a 50/50 ball with defender Jason Talbot. But he was left in agony, a scan revealing he’d suffered a small tear in his medial ligament and although he’s been ruled out for six weeks, the 24-year-old admitted he believes he “got off lucky.” (Evening News)

O’Halloran surprised to play

Michael O’Halloran admits he was surprised to be named among Rangers’ starting XI for the visit of St Johnstone on Wednesday.

The winger was widely praised for his performance by the home support, despite a frustrating evening where the hosts were held to a 1-1 draw by Tommy Wright’s men.

O’Halloran insists he’s never been one to ask the manager why he’s not playing, having sat on the bench for most of the season, but is now determined to take his chance. (Evening Times)

Lennon’s ban reduced

Hibs head coach Neil Lennon has had his Uefa ban reduced to a four-match touchline suspension 
following an appeal.

European football’s governing body had initially meted out a five-game penalty after charging Lennon with “acts of violence against the referee” during July’s Europa League first leg 1-0 defeat by Brondby.

The former Celtic manager was sent to the stand by Spanish official Juan Martinez Munuera after remonstrating over the decision to wrongly disallow a Jason Cummings goal for offside. (The Scotsman)

Warburton: I have 95 per cent backing

Mark Warburton believes he retains the backing of 95 per cent of Rangers supporters and insists he remains fully committed to the task of restoring the Ibrox club to the summit of Scottish football.

The Rangers manager, who labelled speculation linking him with the vacancy at English Championship club Wigan Athletic as “nonsensical”, feels criticism of his team’s start to the season is largely confined to what he describes as “rogue comments” on radio phone-ins and newspaper hotlines. (The Scotsman)

McInnes confident of win over Celtic

Derek McInnes is confident Aberdeen can inflict Celtic’s first defeat in domestic football under Brendan Rogers at Pittodrie tomorrow but admits he is far too sensible to suggest the Premiership title will end up anywhere other than Parkhead.

The defending champions may be struggling to make an impact in the Champions League but Wednesday’s 4-0 victory at Dingwall makes it 11 wins and a draw from their 12 matches so far against Scottish opposition.

It is a run that included the Dons’ 23rd consecutive league defeat at Celtic Park, but McInnes’s side won both meetings at Pittodrie last season and he is convinced they can repeat that feat to consolidate their own position as closest challengers. (Various)

Johnsen pushing for a start

Bjorn Johnsen is pushing for a starting place when Hearts travel to Inverness Caledonian Thistle tomorrow. Head coach Robbie Neilson admitted today that the American striker is forcing his way into his thoughts for the trip to the Highlands.

Johnsen has made just one start in eight appearances for Hearts so far and is eager to secure a sustained run in the side. (Evening News)


• Raith Rovers winger Bobby Barr to miss a month with a knee injury. (Deadline News)

Tom Hateley backs Dundee manager Paul Hartley to turnaround the club’s ailing fortunes on the park. (Daily Record)

Jordan Rossiter to wait until next week’s clash with Ross County to make his Rangers return after suffering another injury setback. (Evening Times)

Barcelona are set to be without injured foursome Jeremy Mathieu, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Aleix Vidal when they travel to Celtic Park in a month’s time. (Daily Express)

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271386.1477640591!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271386.1477640591!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scott Brown is considering a surprising return to the Scotland squad. Picture: Phil Wilkinson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scott Brown is considering a surprising return to the Scotland squad. Picture: Phil Wilkinson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271386.1477640591!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/hibernian/uefa-reduces-neil-lennon-s-ban-to-four-games-after-appeal-1-4271377","id":"1.4271377","articleHeadline": "Uefa reduces Neil Lennon’s ban to four games after appeal","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477636180000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs head coach Neil Lennon has had his Uefa ban reduced to a four-match touchline suspension 
following an appeal.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271376.1477636143!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibernian manager Neil Lennon has had his suspension reduced. Picture: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

European football’s governing body had initially meted out a five-game penalty after charging Lennon with “acts of violence against the referee” during July’s Europa League first leg 1-0 defeat by Brondby.

The former Celtic manager was sent to the stand by Spanish official Juan Martinez Munuera after remonstrating over the decision to wrongly disallow a Jason Cummings goal for offside.

Lennon watched on from the directors’ box in the return leg in Denmark as Hibs were knocked out of the competition on penalties at the second qualifying round stage.

Lennon was then left “gobsmacked” when Uefa’s Control, Ethics and 
Disciplinary Body handed out an additional five-match dugout ban after examining the referee’s report.

Following an appeal, however, that punishment has now been reduced.

A Uefa spokesperson said: “The appeal lodged by the Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon has been partially accepted.

“Consequently, the Uefa Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body decision of 21 July 2016 has been amended as follows: To suspend the Hibernian FC official Neil Lennon for four Uefa competition matches in which he would otherwise participate.”

Lennon will have to serve the ban should he take Hibs or any other club he is managing back into European competition.

When given the initial suspension, Lennon said: “I could not believe it was a five-game ban. It is just ridiculous and a piece of nonsense really.

“The wording of the charge is ridiculous.

“We put a submission in at the time and that has obviously been ignored.

“The game and a half that I served should be punishment enough. Any additional games – I was thinking one at the most, but five; to say it is excessive is an understatement.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271376.1477636143!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271376.1477636143!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hibernian manager Neil Lennon has had his suspension reduced. Picture: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibernian manager Neil Lennon has had his suspension reduced. Picture: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271376.1477636143!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/aberdeen/derek-mcinnes-only-a-fool-would-say-celtic-won-t-win-league-1-4271375","id":"1.4271375","articleHeadline": "Derek McInnes: Only a fool would say Celtic won’t win league","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477636044000 ,"articleLead": "

Derek McInnes is confident Aberdeen can inflict Celtic’s first defeat in domestic football under Brendan Rogers at Pittodrie tomorrow but admits he is far too sensible to suggest the Premiership title will end up anywhere other than Parkhead.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271374.1477636007!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes conceded Celtic are the best side. Picture: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

The defending champions may be struggling to make an impact in the Champions League but Wednesday’s 4-0 victory at Dingwall makes it 11 wins and a draw from their 12 matches so far against Scottish opposition.

It is a run that included the Dons’ 23rd consecutive league defeat at Celtic Park, but McInnes’s side won both meetings at Pittodrie last season and he is convinced they can repeat that feat to consolidate their own position as 
closest challengers.

Realistically, finishing credible runners-up for a third successive season is the best their manager believes Aberdeen can achieve, as it would be lacking good sense or judgement to say otherwise.

“I think it is understandable that people believe Celtic will win the league,” said McInnes, pictured. “I do feel that it is up to us and others to do all we can to make sure that isn’t the case though.

“Only a fool would say Celtic aren’t going to win the league the way they have started the season but we all have responsibilities to make sure it is not too comfortable for them either.

“They have little bits of doubt throughout the season and there is no better time than when you play them yourself. You can leave your mark on them and do damage to them by winning the game.

“That is our intention for Saturday. I think that helped us stay with Celtic last season. I don’t think they won the league until three games to go and us beating them twice here was a big part in that.

“You look at leagues all over Europe and normally by Christmas there are one or two dominant teams who are stretching away from everybody else. That is how it is in most countries but for us to try and stay with Celtic it is going to be difficult.

“I have always said Celtic will need to have a poorer season by their standards for others to get close to them. They actually have improved and that makes the challenge more difficult but I don’t think we should just roll over either.

“We have a bit of pride in ourselves and we want to give them something to think about. The only time we can really do that is when we play them and hopefully we can do that on Saturday.”

Celtic paid Aberdeen the compliment of resting eight of the starting line-up that defeated Rangers in the Betfred Cup semi final last Sunday for that win at Dingwall, a calculated gamble that paid off.

They will move ten points clear of the Dons with a game in hand if they get a morale-boosting victory ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Germany 
to face their Champions League opponents Borussia Monchengladbach.

McInnes is looking for a positive response to their midweek defeat at Hamilton Accies and is hoping to have striker Jayden Stockley fit to boost the chances of that happening but admits Celtic have a huge advantage once again when it comes to variety up front.

He added: “Their attacking threat is definitely stronger but Toure’s arrival has certainly helped them defensively. Denayer and Van Dijk were probably the best defensive pairing the SPL has had for a long time but they maybe never had the firepower at the time.

“Last year they were so reliant on Leigh Griffiths but now Sinclair looks like he can score 25 goals in the league this season. Dembele will score something like that as well and maybe more and Griffiths is still capable of that so you are probably talking between three players potentially 70 goals.

“It doesn’t sound too far-fetched and that is a lot to 
stop and I do think with Toure being there at centre-back it helps whoever he plays with be more solid.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271374.1477636007!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271374.1477636007!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes conceded Celtic are the best side. Picture: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes conceded Celtic are the best side. Picture: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271374.1477636007!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/competitions/premiership/no-more-wrong-turns-as-kilmarnock-head-in-right-direction-1-4271373","id":"1.4271373","articleHeadline": "No more wrong turns as Kilmarnock head in right direction","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477635877000 ,"articleLead": "

Kilmarnock have turned many corners. But like 
someone trapped in a maze with no map to navigate a route out, they had been struggling to make much progress.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271371.1477635838!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kilmarnock defeated Hearts on Saturday night. Picture: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

There is hope these days that they are on the right track, though, according to defender Steven Smith. On Wednesday night they finally broke the home ground hoodoo, winning at Rugby Park, on league duty, for the first time since last season’s play-offs. And, having withstood the belittling they suffered at the hands of Celtic and then Aberdeen, they have battled back with notable wins over third and fourth placed St Johnstone and Hearts, as well as a decent draw away at Inverness.

The win over a Hearts side gunning for second place was emphatic, with manager Lee Clark hailing it the best of his tenure, and gives the team huge confidence as they head to Ibrox this weekend hoping to take another notable scalp and bulldoze their way into the top six.

“It was a big result for us and we deserved it,” said Smith, pictured. “We could easily have scored a few more but we’ll settle for two and the clean sheet, which was just as important; that’s two in the last three games. I think we’re heading in the right direction.

“Apart from the defeats by Aberdeen and Celtic, we’ve been in with a shout in every game we’ve played. Last year was different – we were being beaten by three or four goals every other week, which wasn’t acceptable.

“I’ve sat here a few times in the past and said that I thought we’d turned the corner but the boys are confident now and they’re enjoying playing, which is a huge thing.”

A combination of perpetual energy being expended in the right ways and some quality individuals has aided the Killie revival and while Smith weighed in with a wonderful goal of his own in midweek, it is the contributions of super signing Souleymane Coulibaly, who netted another superb effort against Hearts, that are causing mouths to water. His manager said he will have a goal of the season dvd of his own by the time the campaign reaches its denouement and there are a few belters already in the reckoning.

“The biggest thing for any player is sheer hard graft but when you can produce goals like his the other night, when you have something special in your locker, that’s massive. He was a great find,” added Smith.

“Not everything he tries comes off but when you score with overhead kicks the way he does or ping one in from 30 or 40 yards then all bets are off.

“He’s already scored two or three contenders for Goal of the Season – and Celebration of the Season as well!”

The Ivorian playmaker unleashed one of his special backflips after he scored a spectacular goal against Celtic and he would do likewise if he could add another against Rangers tomorrow, with Smith confident that the team can go to his former club and get the win.

“Of course we can – and it’ll be about work-rate again,” he said. “With the way Rangers play it’ll be all about what we do without the ball. Then, when we get possession, we’ve got to punish them. It’s a great occasion and a fabulous stadium to go and play in and we’re looking forward to it. I know what it’s like to be a Rangers player when you’re under pressure. Our game plan will be to go and keep things tight for 10-15 minutes and then, hopefully, the crowd turns on them – I’ve seen them do it when I was there.

“That’s when the pressure ramps up and it becomes harder for them to take possession and do something.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271371.1477635838!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271371.1477635838!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Kilmarnock defeated Hearts on Saturday night. Picture: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kilmarnock defeated Hearts on Saturday night. Picture: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271371.1477635838!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/competitions/premiership/ex-defender-fears-dundee-will-follow-rivals-into-second-tier-1-4271372","id":"1.4271372","articleHeadline": "Ex-defender fears Dundee will follow rivals into second tier","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477635875000 ,"articleLead": "

Matt Lockwood fears Dundee fans could be the ones to end up crying this season – just like their Dundee United rivals back in May.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271370.1477635838!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dundee manager Paul Hartley is under increasing pressure. Picture: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

The Dark Blues are in crisis in the wake of their sixth successive league defeat as Partick Thistle piled more misery on Paul Hartley’s men with a 2-0 win at Dens Park in midweek.

Boss Hartley admits he is under pressure having not won in the Premiership since their opening-day 3-1 success up in Ross County and now they sit three points adrift of second-bottom Motherwell in the table.

Lockwood, pictured, who starred at Dens from 2010-2014, watched his old club rub salt into United’s wounds at the end of last season by relegating the Tangerines to the Championship to spark wild celebrations among the Dundee faithful at Dens that night.

But now the former Dark Blues stalwart admits the Dundee supporters’ gloating may come back to haunt them unless their fortunes on the field pick up dramatically in the weeks ahead.

Lockwood said: “Dundee have shades of Dundee United about them in the Premiership last season.

“They look to be a team in freefall and we all remember what happened back in May as Dundee fans rubbed it in and United’s supporters were made to suffer big-time.

“Well, how things can change in football in the space of just a few months.

“It could be that Dundee’s fans are the ones to go through that sort of pain this time round which would be unthinkable from their point of view.

“It would be a travesty if my old club were relegated to be honest.

“You could say it’s still early days but, unless things pick up soon and results come from somewhere, there’s a danger they could become cut adrift.

“That’s my biggest worry and on current form, having not won since 6 August in the league, there’s nothing to suggest that won’t happen.”

Lockwood was instrumental in helping Dundee avoid relegation despite being hit with a whopping deduction of 25 points by the SFL in 2010 for plunging into administration.

The ex-Queens Park Rangers and Nottingham Forest defender insists they need to find the kind of fighting spirit they displayed back then if they are to climb the table.

Lockwood said: “When you’re down there it becomes a real dog-fight.

“In the same way that winning became a habit for us when we were with the 25-point reduction, losing can very quickly become just as much of a habit at any football club.

“That’s what it seems like as far as Dundee are concerned right now.

“Confidence goes within the dressing room which is only natural and then the fans can start to get on the players’ backs which is the last thing you want.

“The Dundee fans will demand better. They want to see their side challenge for a top-six spot at least because they’ve had a taste of that in the past couple of seasons. However, these are testing times and I just hope for the supporters’ sake they can get out of this current situation.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271370.1477635838!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271370.1477635838!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Dundee manager Paul Hartley is under increasing pressure. Picture: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dundee manager Paul Hartley is under increasing pressure. Picture: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271370.1477635838!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/competitions/premiership/managing-expectation-is-rangers-boss-mark-warburton-s-test-1-4271238","id":"1.4271238","articleHeadline": "Managing expectation is Rangers boss Mark Warburton’s test","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477609201000 ,"articleLead": "

Retaining a sense of perspective has never come easily in football, especially at a club which operates against a backdrop of relentlessly high expectations regardless of the circumstances it finds itself in.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271237.1477594884!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rangers manager Mark Warburton urges his team on in the 1-1 draw against St Johnstone at Ibrox. Picture: Craig Watson/PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Mark Warburton admits it has taken him all of the year and a bit he has been in charge of Rangers to fully come to terms with the demands placed upon him at Ibrox. The club’s quest to find stability and security off the pitch in the wake of their 2012 financial collapse has in no way diminished the desire of their support to see the team challenging for major honours.

The chorus of jeers which rang around the Govan ground on Wednesday night at the conclusion of a 1-1 draw with St Johnstone which left Rangers in fifth place in the Premiership table indicated once more that patience and understanding from the club’s support have a very limited shelf life.

In his programme notes for the match, Warburton had written of being “less than halfway into what is a long-term project designed to take the club back to the pinnacle of Scottish football and we know much work lies ahead”.

Along with his assistant David Weir, the Englishman signed a contract extension in the summer which is scheduled to extend his stay at Rangers until at least 2019. His team’s inconsistent start to life in the top flight has failed to sow any doubt in his own mind he will continue to be backed by chairman Dave King and the rest of the Ibrox board to fulfil his vision for Rangers.

“Any manager has got to say that,” said Warburton. “Every manager has got to say they hope that progress is being made and is being seen to be made. That’s really important.

“I haven’t seen any disquiet. Mr King is based in South Africa. That’s why we have a clear dialogue with (managing director) Stewart Robertson and (finance and administration director) Andrew Dickson, plus we also see people like directors John Gilligan, Paul Murray and John Bennett all the time. We have good dialogue. What we do is relay our thoughts on the team, structure and staffing continually and in the board meetings.

“The expectation has to be always there and we are getting used to it. Some guys are steeped in it. It has taken me 18 months to understand a lot more about it. But the new guys we have had coming in this season have been knocking on my door, bemused by it.

“We have got to learn that the expectation is high because the supporters have been reared on titles, cup success and European travels. That is the Rangers support, we have to recognise that is where we have to get back to. What we have to do is manage the expectations in the squad and recognise what is good, what is success. In the short term, and the longer term.

“The support are very demanding, very expectant and rightly so. They were reared on success and it’s our job to understand that. I was interested to hear Davie Weir say that when he played here, it was with proven internationals and it still took many of them months to settle when they joined the club.

“We have young players here now. I look at Josh Windass, who was playing for Accrington Stanley last season and then on Wednesday was in front of a 40,000 plus crowd at Ibrox. It’s a huge jump for these boys. But the crowd don’t have to change, it’s up to us to recognise the responsibility and enjoy it. It’s like everything else, it’s going to take time. So when I see people slaughtering a young player, there is no thought of what he is going through. He has gone from playing in front of 2,000 last year to playing in front of 50,000 this year and he just has to get used to it.”

But for Warburton and his players, there was a poignant reminder yesterday that football’s significance amid the greater scheme of things can often be exaggerated. They were joined during their training session by members of the Nith Valley Rangers Supporters club, including friends and relatives of Ryan Baird who lost his life at the age of 39 when their bus crashed en route to Ibrox for the match against Partick Thistle at the start of this month.

“It IS only a game, as much as it galls people to say that at times,” observed Warburton. “You know where I’m coming from – there are some things which are far more important. We met Ryan’s mum and dad, along with his fiancee, and it is clearly devastating for them. It was good to get the lads from the supporters club in today to show them around. It was the least we could do.

“Some of them told us they had been sitting earlier in the seat where Ryan was on the day. It puts everything else into perspective.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271237.1477594884!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271237.1477594884!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Rangers manager Mark Warburton urges his team on in the 1-1 draw against St Johnstone at Ibrox. Picture: Craig Watson/PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rangers manager Mark Warburton urges his team on in the 1-1 draw against St Johnstone at Ibrox. Picture: Craig Watson/PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271237.1477594884!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/competitions/premiership/mark-warburton-95-per-cent-of-rangers-fans-back-me-1-4271242","id":"1.4271242","articleHeadline": "Mark Warburton: 95 per cent of Rangers fans back me","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477609201000 ,"articleLead": "

Mark Warburton believes he retains the backing of 95 per cent of Rangers supporters and insists he remains fully committed to the task of restoring the Ibrox club to the summit of Scottish football.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271241.1477595014!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Joey Barton arrives at Ibrox ahead of disciplinary talks with the club. Picture: Graig Foy/SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

The Rangers manager, who labelled speculation linking him with the vacancy at English Championship club Wigan Athletic as “nonsensical”, feels criticism of his team’s start to the season is largely confined to what he describes as “rogue comments” on radio phone-ins and newspaper hotlines.

Warburton’s side have dropped 14 points from their first 10 Premiership fixtures, leaving them in fifth place in the Ladbrokes Premiership. Their 1-1 draw at home to St Johnstone on Wednesday night was greeted by jeers from their own fans.

But, while Warburton accepts the level of Rangers’ second half performance merited that reaction, he is confident the vast majority of the club’s support still have faith in his ability to create a team ultimately capable of challenging for the title.

“We have spoken to enough genuine Rangers supporters and we are not listening to the five per cent minority,” said Warburton. “We are not listening to them at all. The feedback we get from the rest is positive. They understand that we are trying to play. The second half against St Johnstone wasn’t good enough. Why did I say the boos were understandable? Because it wasn’t a good second half. You pay your money to be entertained. I know I wasn’t entertained in the second half, I didn’t enjoy watching my team. So I understand the boos, absolutely.

“But I know the vast majority of Rangers fans have been first class, they’ve been fantastic. There are rogue comments in papers or on radio stations. We don’t listen to that.

“If the board come and speak to me, that’s different. If you listen to certain comments, you’d think the pressure comes from the board because we have won four out of 10 in the league. If we had won on Wednesday, where would we be in relation to Aberdeen and Hearts? We are just 10 games in, it’s still very early in the season. We still have players gelling and settling in.

“But right now, we are right in the mix. If we win our next two games and are second in the table going into the international break, is that bad for a team who have come up this season? Is it bad if we are sitting second after such a ‘shocking start’, as some people would have it? I’m not so sure.”

Warburton was quickly installed as one of the leading candidates for the Wigan job after the sacking earlier this week of former Celtic and Scotland defender Gary Caldwell.

“No disrespect to Wigan, they are a very good club, but I have got to ask where did that come from?,” said Warburton.

“Does it really warrant being on the back page, Warburton being linked to the Wigan job? I can’t control that, but it is nonsensical.

“We are more than committed to Rangers and I hope the Rangers fans know that. They see the project we are doing here.

“Of course it is a results driven business but, if you are going to do a project as people refer to, then it has to go right the way through the whole club, right down to the youngest academy players. If we can do that, we will be okay.”

Warburton was speaking before Joey Barton reported to Ibrox for talks with Rangers officials in regard to his ongoing suspension from the club following a training ground bust-up in the aftermath of the 5-1 defeat by Celtic on 10 September. Barton declined to make any comment as he made his way into the meeting which lasted for two hours. The 34-year-old’s suspension remains in place as the disciplinary process continues.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271241.1477595014!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271241.1477595014!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Joey Barton arrives at Ibrox ahead of disciplinary talks with the club. Picture: Graig Foy/SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Joey Barton arrives at Ibrox ahead of disciplinary talks with the club. Picture: Graig Foy/SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271241.1477595014!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/rugby-union/glasgow-warriors/tommy-seymour-returns-as-glasgow-bench-packs-a-hefty-punch-1-4271213","id":"1.4271213","articleHeadline": "Tommy Seymour returns as Glasgow bench packs a hefty punch","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477609200000 ,"articleLead": "

After falling off a horse, the first thing to do is get back in the saddle and that was the line adopted by Glasgow boss Gregor Townsend as his team licked their wounds following that mauling from Munster.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271212.1477591998!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Glasgow winger Tommy Seymour makes a welcome return for tonight's game against Treviso. Picture: SRU/SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

The coach has selected a strong team to play against Treviso this evening in an effort to get Glasgow back on track and grow his players’ self-belief, which was sorely dented by the nature of last Saturday’s shellacking in the Champions Cup.

“It’s been a chastening but important learning experience for us, that game,” said a rueful Townsend at the team announcement. “If we ever get into the same situation again I would do things differently and we would be ready for it. So… disappointed that it 
happened but we have a game this weekend to show more of what we have been doing in the last few weeks.

“I hope nothing like that [happens again]… but there will be situations which bring a crowd or a team out with real passion. I imagine Leicester in the last Champions Cup game will be highly motivated to play us and there will be a 25,000 capacity crowd. So for different reasons, we will go to places with our backs against the wall and the build-up might be different to those games but we obviously didn’t play as well as we set out to do and that is what we have been working on this week.”

The starting team is similar to the one which finished a distant second last weekend with the exception of the front row which is all changed, Alex Allan, Pat MacArthur and Sila Puafisi start this evening. In the backs Mark Bennett comes in for Sam Johnson in the midfield and Tommy Seymour makes a welcome return, the winger’s first start in October, just in time for the autumn internationals.

Peter Horne also makes a return from a hand injury
 although he must make do with a spot on the bench where the little midfielder will be dwarfed by two formidable imported forwards with the combined weight of a whopping 253kgs (forty stones if you voted “leave”), both of them hoping to make their Glasgow debut.

Brian Alainu’uese is a Kiwi lock who has played age grade international rugby for Samoa and arrived from Waikato on the recommendation of 
Dave Rennie, Glasgow’s next head coach.

Langilangi Haupeakui “so good they named him twice,” quipped Townsend, is an American Eagle from East Palo Alto in California and both men have their coach drooling at the impact these twin heavyweights offer.

“Langi has been here two and a half weeks,” said Townsend. “He came over to Ireland with us as twenty-fourth man. He is desperate to play so there was the usual visa issues and getting him over here early enough. His strengths are defensive, he is an excellent tackler.

“He has an American football background so he’s only been playing rugby this last two years. He played both sides of the ball in American football, offence and defence. He is a good runner, explosive, his timing is really good, he reminds me of a rugby league player the way he runs those unders lines and he is covering the back row positions.

“Langi has only been in pro rugby for the last six months and the last Eagles game. Greg Peterson [Glasgow lock and USA Eagle] said this guy has joined us and you should look at him. [Eagles coach] John Mitchell gave a really good report on him which is great.

“Brian [Alainu’uese] is 22 but looks like he has been playing the game at the highest level for the last ten years. He fitted in so well on Monday, we were doing our attack shape and he picked it up very quickly. His match fitness is really good. He played the last eight weeks for Waikato in the Mitre Cup.

“He is obviously impressive physically, 135kgs but he moves well. He doesn’t look overweight. I haven’t spoken to Dave Rennie, his target weight is probably nearer to 130kgs but he doesn’t look overweight.

“We looked around for second row cover but he stood out a lot. Brian had an option to go to France but thankfully we got in at the right time and Dave helped us with that. We are pretty excited about getting a player of that quality.”

Glasgow’s opponents Treviso are led by the ageing warrior Alessandro Zanni, Tommy Allen starts on the bench and starting in his place is former Leinster No 10 Ian McKinley. He is difficult to miss as the stand-off sports protective goggles. A stud blinded him in one eye and threatened to terminate his professional career until he commissioned the protective eye wear.

That may be the most interesting thing about this evening’s opposition. Treviso boast just one victory in seven league outings to date, the sort of opposition that are just what Glasgow need to get back to winning ways. Anything less than a bonus point win this evening for the home team will see Townsend reaching for his hair shirt for a 
second successive week.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271212.1477591998!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271212.1477591998!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Glasgow winger Tommy Seymour makes a welcome return for tonight's game against Treviso. Picture: SRU/SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Glasgow winger Tommy Seymour makes a welcome return for tonight's game against Treviso. Picture: SRU/SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271212.1477591998!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/hearts/hearts-must-show-character-to-bounce-back-from-limp-defeat-1-4271230","id":"1.4271230","articleHeadline": "Hearts must show character to bounce back from limp defeat","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477609200000 ,"articleLead": "

John Souttar understands that there are big demands at a club like Hearts and he is confident that his colleagues also know what is expected of them and have the character to deliver. That is despite the team passing up the opportunity to move into second spot in the Premiership table, with a flat, uninspiring performance against Kilmarnock on Wednesday.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271229.1477594363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Defender John Souttar, left, vies with Kilmarnock's Nathan Tyson during Hearts' midweek defeat at Rugby Park. Picture: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Unable to adapt to the well-prepped pressing game played by their hosts and still struggling with mis-firing strikers, the side failed to capitalise on Aberdeen’s slip-up the night before and allowed St Johnstone to leapfrog them into third.

Souttar recognises that he and his team-mates now have a point to prove and need to quickly make amends when they head up to the Highlands to face up to Inverness tomorrow.

“I don’t think there is any way we can hide what happened at Kilmarnock. It wasn’t a good performance. We had chances and didn’t take them, but it was a poor night and not good enough for a Hearts team to go anywhere and play like that,” said the young defender, who says he has not been distracted by reports of interest from Aston Villa and hasn’t even felt the need to discuss the 
speculation with his gaffer, stressing that he wants to stay put and focus on turning in consistently high quality performances for Hearts.

“We have set high standards and demand a lot better of ourselves than that. You have to be at your top in every game and you have to demand high standards of yourselves. If you get slack and sloppy against any team in the Premiership, they will beat you, so you need to be at the top of your game.” Few of a maroon persuasion left Rugby Park satisfied on Wednesday night. The Hearts manager Robbie Neilson spoke of his frustration, while the fans have expressed their disquiet. Having lost just one game in eight in the run-up to that game, the defeat could be viewed as a mere blip but not at a club like Hearts, who are chasing better.

The manager had set his men a target of nine points from nine in the three matches leading up to the next international break. Having dropped points in two of the three league games with Killie last term, picked up just one point from a possible six in Inverness, and won only one of the four head to heads with St Johnstone, he had given his men the challenge of improving on those statistics this season. Having failed at the first hurdle, they now have two more games in which to try to salvage some pride and prove they have the heart and the ability needed to advance.

“If you want to be playing for a bigger team, there is going to be pressure on you and, if you can’t handle it, you have got a problem,” said Souttar. “But I think we have the character in the dressing room to bounce back. No-one inside the dressing room was happy with the way we played.”

There were chances, with strikers Tony Watt and Bjorn Johnsen passing up gilt-edged openings and Jamie Walker forcing a save but the creative threat that allowed them to post five past Inverness when they met at Tynecastle earlier this season will have to be rediscovered quickly if they are to gain another win over Richie Foran’s men.

“[Wednesday] was one of those nights where our chances didn’t go in,” added Souttar. “I thought there were spells when we passed the ball well, but that doesn’t matter if you lose 2-0. Kilmarnock scored two good goals, even though we felt we could have done better with them. We’ll watch the video analysis and see what we could do better.

“It was a massive opportunity for us to go second, but it’s done now. There is nothing we can do about it, so we just need to be positive and move on. It’s up to us to concentrate on getting a performance and a win at Inverness. We need to get going again.

“Every team in the league is going to have a poor performance, but it is about how you react and you need to get the right result. We have bounced back from bad results already this season and you need to because big teams don’t dwell on things.

“Inverness is a tough place to go. They are a good side, especially at home. But, on the back of a bad result, we’ll need to go and do it.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271229.1477594363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271229.1477594363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Defender John Souttar, left, vies with Kilmarnock's Nathan Tyson during Hearts' midweek defeat at Rugby Park. Picture: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Defender John Souttar, left, vies with Kilmarnock's Nathan Tyson during Hearts' midweek defeat at Rugby Park. Picture: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271229.1477594363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/rugby-union/guinness-pro12/edinburgh-coach-in-dark-over-possible-move-for-huw-jones-1-4271236","id":"1.4271236","articleHeadline": "Edinburgh coach in dark over possible move for Huw Jones","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477609200000 ,"articleLead": "

Edinburgh interim head coach Duncan Hodge insisted yesterday that any possibility of Scotland centre Huw Jones potentially coming to the club was “not on my radar”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271235.1477594838!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Huw Jones, pictured in action for Scotland, may be available for a fee from South African club Stormers. Picture: SRU/SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

Scotland coach Vern Cotter has suggested that attempts are being made to bring the Stormers midfielder, who earned his first cap on the recent Japan tour, to either Edinburgh or Glasgow.

The 22-year-old was born in Edinburgh but mainly raised in England and made his breakthrough into professional rugby in South Africa, where he attended university.

Edinburgh might be viewed as more in need of a top-class centre than the Warriors at present, but Hodge said: “It’s the first I’ve heard. I’ve no idea. All we are really doing is preparing for Friday night’s game. It’s news to me.

“That has not been on my radar. Those conversations are happening within the SRU in collaboration with Edinburgh and Glasgow. I’ve not had any involvement.

“I watched him in the summer. I’ve watched a fair bit of him in super rugby as well. To play for Scotland he’s obviously a good player. He’s not someone I’ve seen a huge amount of, but is obviously a talented player.”

Jones still has a year to run on his contract with Western Province, who run the Cape Town-based Stormers, and his agent, who also represents South Africa-born Scotland caps WP Nel and Josh Strauss, told The Scotsman that he is “expected to be playing Super Rugby next season”.

Western Province have been suffering financial woes of late, however, with a reported £650,000 annual loss and a legal dispute over commercial rights which has led to them being sued for £4.3 million by a sports marketing firm. So they may be willing to let Jones go for a fee.

However, Hodge is completely focused on maintaining Edinburgh’s current good run of form, which culminated in last Saturday’s thrilling 36-35 European Challenge Cup win over Harlequins.

The aim now is to make it four wins in a row when winless Italian basement boys Zebre visit BT Murrayfield tonight.

“In terms of how we are playing, we will go into the game with some confidence,” said the coach. “But this week has been about maintaining those standards. We don’t want to drop at all, we want to keep improving.

“It’s Saturday to Friday [turnaround] so it’s been a bit different having a shorter week. There were some big pluses 
last week, especially in terms of defence and some of our attack, but we were a bit behind with our kick-offs and some of our forward play.

“We have certainly not put together the full package by any means. That is an aim. It’s lucky we’re at home and hopefully we will get another big crowd. We want to keep winning at home.”

Hodge has made four changes to the team that edged ’Quins, all in the pack, as new Argentine tighthead prop Felipe Arregui, who made his debut off the bench at the weekend, will make his first Edinburgh start as he replaces Nel, whose neck injury has ruled him out of the autumn Tests, while hooker Stuart McInally makes a direct 
swap from the bench with Ross Ford.

In the back-row, Magnus Bradbury switches from blindside flanker to No 8 with the incoming Viliame Mata at blindside in what will also be his first home start.

John Hardie gets his chance at openside, with Hamish Watson rested.

Hodge said it was a great position to be in with two such quality and in-form flankers available for that key openside linking role.

“If you look at their involvement in the games they have been playing, it’s a big shift for an openside,” said the coach.

“We’ve got two guys who can play extremely well, so from an Edinburgh point of view it makes sense to share that workload, plus you try to balance it with your team and what you’re trying to do 

“They’re both playing exceptionally well for Edinburgh, and last week’s selection came on the back of Hards making 24 tackles and playing the full 80 minutes in Romania, then doing all the travelling. It’s an incredible position to be in, and hopefully we’ll be like Glasgow over the past couple of years where they’ve had the amazing competition for 
places – we’re certainly getting that now.

“Which is good for the team, good for training, good for 
creating that competitive 

“There are a lot of good players who are not getting a game just now.”

It’s already looking like it will be another long, hard season for the Italian clubs but Hodge insisted: “Zebre have a lot of good qualities about them. They will come to play rugby. They are strong up front and they are pretty aggressive in defence.

“We know when we go to Italy that it’s not easy in terms of travel so there are some tough factors for them to face.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271235.1477594838!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271235.1477594838!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Huw Jones, pictured in action for Scotland, may be available for a fee from South African club Stormers. Picture: SRU/SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Huw Jones, pictured in action for Scotland, may be available for a fee from South African club Stormers. Picture: SRU/SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271235.1477594838!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/celtic/brendan-rodgers-brown-would-ve-walked-into-liverpool-team-1-4271240","id":"1.4271240","articleHeadline": "Brendan Rodgers: Brown would’ve walked into Liverpool team","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477609200000 ,"articleLead": "

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has paid tribute to the enduring power and influence of club captain Scott Brown, stating that the 31-year-old would have walked into the Liverpool team which came agonisingly close to being Premier League champions three years ago.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271239.1477632383!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Caltic captain Scott Brown trains ahead of their clash with Aberdeen. Picture: SNS."} ,"articleBody": "

Rodgers was able to select his midfield from notable players such as Steven Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho, Joe Allen, Victor Moses and current England captain Jordan Henderson but he is convinced Brown would have forced his way into the starting 11.

He also revealed that Brown, who retired from international football earlier this season, had rebuffed opportunities to play in England.

The skipper was rested for Wednesday’s 4-0 victory over Ross County and spent the spare time wisely, attending the birth of his third, child but Rodgers insists he will return for tomorrow’s visit to 

“Scott looks well,” he said. “He’s a father of three now and it was nice, probably the perfect opportunity for him to be at home.

“I spoke to him a number of weeks ago, I knew his wife was expecting around this time and said to him: ‘She’s the most important thing, make sure you look after her – she does amazingly for you when you’re travelling all over the world playing and earning a living for your family. Look after her and everything else will take care of itself’.

“He’s come back fresh and ready to go again on Saturday. He trained today and he looks in great nick.”

Brown had asked to join the squad for the visit to the Highlands but Rodgers was adamant that he should stay at home.

“I’m not sure what [Brown’s wife] Lisa would have said if he’d come with us but he just doesn’t want to miss a game,” he said.

“He’s someone I’ve been so impressed with since I first met him in my house earlier on in the season. He’s really devoted himself to how I’ve wanted the team to operate, on the field and off it.

“You guys will have seen him more often than me but, if he was playing at a better level than he’s at just now, both physically and tactically, then I’d be surprised.

“The biggest compliment I can give him is that, having worked in what is supposedly the best [and] the most competitive league in the world, Scott Brown – if I look at my Liverpool team that nearly won the title – he would definitely have been in it.

“There’s no doubt about that – so that’s the level that the guy is at as a player and as a captain. You want him on your team and on your side.

“It’s the biggest accolade that I can give him. But, thankfully, he’s chosen to play nearly ten years at Celtic and still looks as strong and fit as ever.

“He’s devoting his life to football and his preparation, his diet, the training methodology, will always quicken him up, speed his game and get him thinking tactically. You saw [against Rangers] on Sunday, he was magnificent.”

Unsurprisingly, given that he had captained his country as well as his club, Brown was coveted by a number of clubs down south.

“There was interest,” said Rodgers. “I remember Harry Redknapp at Tottenham wanting to take him there; Harry told me that himself.

“There’s no doubt he’s had options where he could’ve left here. But he was happy in his life and happy here at Celtic. This is a hard place to leave.

“If money’s not the consideration – and no one can deny any player or any person the chance to consider doubling or trebling their salary – then other things come into it.

“Scott’s always been happy here and the supporters love him. They see his worth, probably more so than ever at this stage. So he can certainly retire comfortable in the knowledge that he could probably have played in that league and at the highest level.”

Celtic’s financial muscle was underlined by Rodgers’ revelation that a jet had been chartered to fly the Celtic party 
back from Dingwall on Wednesday.

“It was a 30-minute flight back and it was great, very comfortable and quiet,” he said. “We’re preparing well. I said to Dermot [Desmond] and Peter [Lawwell], when I had the initial conversation with them about coming, that I understand where the club is at in terms of the financial side but I said the one thing we cannot compromise on is the players’ preparation for games.

“We have to give them the best in order to be the very best. The club have been absolutely superb with that.

“Anything I have asked for and anything I have felt that we needed to change or adapt, from the very first day they have been great.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271239.1477632383!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271239.1477632383!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Caltic captain Scott Brown trains ahead of their clash with Aberdeen. Picture: SNS.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Caltic captain Scott Brown trains ahead of their clash with Aberdeen. Picture: SNS.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271239.1477632383!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/tennis/andy-murray-beats-gilles-simon-to-reach-last-eight-in-vienna-1-4271274","id":"1.4271274","articleHeadline": "Andy Murray beats Gilles Simon to reach last eight in Vienna","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477602113000 ,"articleLead": "

Top-seeded Andy Murray overcame a slow start against Gilles Simon of France before winning 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 and advancing to his 13th quarterfinal of the season at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271273.1477602074!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Andy Murray celebrates after battling back to defeat France's Gilles Simon in Vienna. Picture: AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The World No 2, who improved to 16-2 against Simon in their career matches, clinched his 12th straight win of the season after taking back-to-back titles in Beijing and at the Shanghai Masters, where he beat Simon in the semi-finals.

Murray broke Simon in the opening game of the match, but then struggled for rhythm as he dropped his first two service games. The second-ranked Scot broke back when Simon missed a set point and failed to serve out the set at 5-3, but then lost his own serve for a third time.

Murray held off six break points early in the second set and finally looked to settle when he reeled off four straight games to level the match. From 2-2 in the final set, he did the same to close out the match.

Murray, who is 11-1 in quarter-finals this season, takes on John Isner for a place in tomorrow’s semi-finals. The Scot is aiming to overtake 
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic as the world No 1 and needs to win the tournament to help 
him do so.

Earlier, Viktor Troicki advanced to his seventh quarter-final of the season by defeating third-seeded Dominic Thiem 6-2, 7-5.

Troicki, from Serbia, held serve throughout against the ninth-ranked Austrian but needed to save seven break points in the second set.

The 28th-ranked Troicki will next play Spain’s David Ferrer, the defending champion, or Portugal’s Joao Sousa.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga came back from 5-3 behind and saved a set point for Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber in the opening set before beating him 7-6 (8/6), 6-2. The sixth-seeded Frenchman, who won the event five years ago, improved to 10-1 against Kohlschreiber.

Tsonga next plays Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who was a break down in the second set but won nine consecutive games to defeat Austria’s Jurgen Melzer, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0.

Meanwhile, two-time champion Juan Martin del Potro advanced to the Swiss Indoors quarter-finals by beating fifth-seeded David Goffin of Belgium 7-5, 6-3. Del Potro, who won the Stockholm indoor title on Sunday, extended his winning streak to seven matches – six against players higher in the standings than the world No 42 Argentine.

Goffin, who beat Del Potro at the Shanghai Masters two weeks ago, struggled with his second serves and was broken once in each set.

Del Potro won back-to-back titles at Basel in 2012 and 2013 but missed the last two editions due to left wrist injuries that dropped his ranking sharply. The 28-year-old will play world No 5 Kei Nishikori of Japan on today.

Fourth-seeded Marin Cilic also advanced in a 6-0, 7-6 (7/4) win over Pablo Carreno Busta.

Cilic lost only five points in the first set against the 32nd-ranked Spaniard. The second set went with serve, and Cilic trailed in the tiebreaker before reeling off seven straight points. Cilic next plays Marcel Granollers of Spain, who beat eighth-seeded Jack Sock of the United States 6-3, 6-1.

Earlier, Gilles Muller of 
Luxembourg earned a spot in the last eight against Federico Delbonis of Argentina. Muller beat Florian Mayer of Germany 6-3, 6-2.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271273.1477602074!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271273.1477602074!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Andy Murray celebrates after battling back to defeat France's Gilles Simon in Vienna. Picture: AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Andy Murray celebrates after battling back to defeat France's Gilles Simon in Vienna. Picture: AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271273.1477602074!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/russell-knox-starts-shanghai-world-title-defence-with-66-1-4271182","id":"1.4271182","articleHeadline": "Russell Knox starts Shanghai world title defence with 66","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1477588568000 ,"articleLead": "

It’s a tall order. Tiger Woods, after all, is the only player to have achieved the feat. But, as starts go and particularly those made by him, it was job done for Russell Knox in his bid to make a successful defence of a World Golf 

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271181.1477588530!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Russell Knox hits a tee shot on the ninth hole. Picture: Scott Halleran/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Taking up where he had left off when becoming the first Scot to claim one of those coveted titles on the same course 12 months ago, the 31-year-old produced a flawless first-round effort at Sheshan International in the HSBC 

A six-under-par 66 to sit joint third, two shots off the lead, held by Swede Rikard Karlberg, was good reason for Knox to feel pleased with himself. As the defending champion, the last thing he wanted to do was start badly. Four birdies in a row on his front nine followed by two more gains coming home ensured that certainly wasn’t going to 

“The first round is never my strongest so I’m delighted to get off to a flyer and shoot six under,” admitted Knox, the world No 20, after featuring in the best scoring group of the day as his two playing partners, Rickie Fowler and Paul Casey, signed for 65 and 67 respectively to make the trio a combined 18-under-par.

“I didn’t put any pressure on myself, but you only get once shot at your first defence, so I want to make sure I have a good time over the next three days,” added the Florida-based Invernesian. “The conditions were just like this on Sunday last year – very dark and dreich, as the Scots would say, with a little mist and rain. The course played long today, which is fine for me. If it’s lift, clean and place, as long as I’m on the fairway, I can compete around here.”

Fowler, the 2015 Scottish Open champion, covered the back nine in 31 and completed a flawless performance – it left him sitting second on his own – with birdies on the second and ninth, where he holed from around 20 feet.

“It’s always nice to start with seven under par, I’m pleased with that,” admitted the American afterwards. “I knew with the soft conditions they were going to try to tuck some 
pins. It was going to be very scoreable if you drove it in 
the fairways and I was able to do that.”

Fowler added: “I played very well tee to green and that made things a lot easier from there. It was a stress-free, simple round.

“Russell (Knox) and Paul (Casey) have been playing well and we enjoyed each other’s presence. We had a good time out there and fed off each other a bit.”

Karlberg started with four birdies, added five more before dropping his only shot of the day at the 18th as he grabbed the lead on his WGC debut. “It was just one of those days; it was a walk in the park,” said the 2015 Italian Open champion. “I committed to a lot of shots and hit them perfectly, just as I wanted.

“With the wet conditions you just need to be aggressive, bomb to the tee and bomb to the pin, and that’s what I did today. I had great distance control. I hit great shots all day except the last hole. My drive there didn’t fade and I ended up in the bunker and I had a little sand behind the ball. Unfortunately I didn’t really catch it and ended up in the rough, short right, in the water.”

Having found the same wet spot earlier in the day and also run up a 6, Rory McIlroy, the world No 3, had to settle for a 71 as he chases the victory he feels will be necessary to have a chance of winning the Race to Dubai for the third year 

Masters champion Danny Willett, who leads the Order of Merit title contest, battled back from being five over to card a 74 while Open champion Henrik Stenson, the other player in the Race to Dubai mix, had a 69.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4271181.1477588530!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4271181.1477588530!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Russell Knox hits a tee shot on the ninth hole. Picture: Scott Halleran/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Russell Knox hits a tee shot on the ninth hole. Picture: Scott Halleran/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4271181.1477588530!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}