James Tavernier and Martyn Waghorn have turned down contract offers from Rangers, alerting potential suitors in England; Gary Mackay-Steven reveals he played through pain barrier to help Celtic to last season’s title triumph; Andy Halliday says Rangers should be judged on how they fare in the top flight, plus the rest of today’s football news and gossip
James Tavernier and Martyn Waghorn ‘reject new Rangers deals’
James Tavernier and Martyn Waghorn have both turned down contract offers from newly promoted Rangers, according to The Guardian.
With the Ibrox club signing the likes of Joey Barton and Niko Kranjcar during the close season, both players have become unhappy over the negotiation process.
Barton is understood to have been signed on a significantly better deals than Tavernier and Waghorn, with the two stars determined to be rewarded for being part of the Rangers rejuvenation under Mark Warburton.
The uncertainty around Tavernier and Waghorn has alerted some of England’s Championship clubs, with a move out of Scotland a possibility for both. (Scotsman)
Efe Ambrose to stay at Celtic
Celtic defender Efe Ambrose insists no approach has been made by Bayer Leverkusen for his services, contrary to reports.
It was said the German club were tabling an offer of around £1.5 million for the much-maligned Hoops defender.
However, Ambrose stated he “was not aware of the move” while speaking to African news outlet OwngoalNigeria. (Football 411)
Jason Cummings set to sign new four-year deal with Hibs
Jason Cummings is poised to sign a new four-year contract with Hibs after deciding that more time at Easter Road will be of greater long-term benefit to his career than a lucrative move down south.
The 20-year-old striker, whose original deal was due to expire next summer, has been linked with several English clubs after he finished as the Edinburgh club’s top scorer in each of the last two seasons.
Upon being appointed Hibs head coach last month, Neil Lennon made it one of his priorities to ensure Cummings remained at the club. He subsequently met the player and his representative in Paris ahead of a Euro 2016 match and convinced him that he should stay and continue his development at Hibs before moving on to more illustrious pastures. (Scotsman)
‘I popped pills to help Celtic win title’, says Gary Mackay-Steven
Gary-Mackay Steven played through the pain barrier to help Celtic over the line in their race to secure the title last season. The midfielder was nursing a foot injury that required surgery, but took painkillers in order to be present for the run-in that helped the Parkhead side clinch the Scottish Premiership title at a time when they were struggling.
He said: “There was a temptation to get the operation done earlier but I knew I could get by with pain killers.
“The manager wanted me to play all the time and the league was tight. We were in cup competitions too and I wanted to play even knowing I wasn’t fully fit.
“I’m happy we won the league and I was able to contribute to the team. But I was taking the pills in high doses quite a lot so that wasn’t great. My stomach’s not in a great state.” (Daily Record)
Rangers can rise again, says Carlos Bocanegra
Carlos Bocanegra has expressed his delight at Rangers’ promotion back to the top flight and is “excited” about manager Mark Warburton’s ability.
The former defender is now technical director for the newly established Atlanta United MLS franchise, who will begin playing football next season.
“The MLS is really expanding and growing and it’s good to be involved in a new venture. I’m also pleased to see Rangers back in the Premiership after four years. It’s a great club and I loved my time there.
“It was terrible what happened but they’re back now and that’s great for everyone connected to Rangers.
“I’m excited about Mark Warburton as a coach. I have heard a lot of good things about him so here’s hoping he does a good job in the new season.” (Daily Record)
Andy Halliday says he should be judged on Scottish Premiership campaign
Rangers’ Andy Halliday has declared his Rangers career will start now – despite being one of the Ibrox’s side’s key players in last season’s promotion push.
The boyhood Rangers fan wants his side to return to the glittering heights of the noughties, when Rangers were starring in European competition and winning titles regularly.
“It was a pretty ideal first season for me. I played a lot of games, whereas in the past few years I had been unfortunate in picking up a few injuries.”
He later said: “Competition for places is to be expected. I probably shouldn’t be judged as a footballer on what I did last year. It’s not a league that we, as a group of players, should have been playing in. This level is what it’s all about about, playing for Rangers. “The Premiership is where we are going to be judged – and rightly so because we’re aiming to challenge for the title.” (Daily Record)
Moussa Dembele: Street football made me the player I am
Moussa Dembele, Celtic’s newest recruit, has recalled his upbringing in France where he played football on the streets against older boys who toughened him up.
Brought up in a town outside Paris, Cergy, Dembele explained that he had a natural gift for football honed in games that lasted three to four hours in concrete arenas.
“I think that’s where I started to learn everything about football,” he said. “You have to be good to play in those games. We would play until it got dark, even play in the dark, because we loved football so much.
“I would maybe only have been about nine or ten at the time. I had to play. I just had to.” (The Scottish Sun)