Rumour Mill: Sunderland want Nir Bitton | Andy Halliday

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SUNDERLAND have sent scouts to watch Celtic midfielder Nir Bitton, Andy Halliday has weighed in on the Alan Stubbs v Mark Warburton spat, and Robbie Neilson says Hearts are braced to receive offers for their players in January.

Sunderland send scouts to watch Nir Bitton

Nir Bitton has been watched by Black Cats scouts. Picture: David Lamb

Nir Bitton has been watched by Black Cats scouts. Picture: David Lamb

Sunderland have been keeping a close eye on Celtic’s Nir Bitton as they weigh up a possible January bid for the Israeli.

The Wearside club have sent scouts to watch the player both at home and in Europe, though they may find it difficult to prize him away from Parkhead since the midfielder is contracted through 2020.

Sunderland currently sit second bottom of the English Premier League and are on their second manager of the campaign after Sam Allardyce succeeded Dick Advocaat. (Evening Times)

Stefan Johansen receives 1/10 rating for Hungary display

Norwegian supporters have not taken kindly to Stefan Johansen’s performance in the country’s 2-1 defeat in Hungary - giving the midfielder a 1/10 rating in an online poll.

Norway failed to qualify for next year’s European Championships after losing both legs of their play-off clash.

Johansen, who is the Ladbrokes Premiership’s reigning player of the year, has struggled for form so far this season. (Daily Express)

Robbie Neilson anticipates bids for Hearts starlets

Hearts expect to receive offers for some of their key players during the January transfer window, with the possibility of further bids next summer. The Edinburgh club are bracing themselves for other clubs trying to tempt prized assets away, so much so that head coach Robbie Neilson is already looking at potential replacements.

Finances are stable at Tynecastle and Neilson has already made it clear he is under no pressure to sell players. Transfers will only be done if the money offered is too good to refuse but management are predicting that bids will be tabled.

The likes of Callum Paterson, Jordan McGhee, Jamie Walker and Sam Nicholson have already attracted attention from England and beyond. (Evening News)

Hibs don’t have to deal with same pressure as Rangers - Halliday

Rangers midfielder Andy Halliday is convinced that the Championship leaders are too strong mentally to buckle, claiming it will be “no problem” for them to retain pole position for the remainder of the campaign.

“At Rangers you need to show that character and bottle every game,” said the 24-year-old. “Maybe Hibs don’t have the same amount of pressure that Rangers have on them to win every single game.

“For teams that are going to play Hibs, it’s not as big an occasion as when teams like Alloa come to Ibrox and play in front of 50,000.” (The Scotsman)

Stubbs v Warburton spat is just ‘pantomime’ insists Hibs coach

Alan Stubbs and Mark Warburton’s so-called war of words is more pantomime than serious fall-out, according to Hibernian first-team coach John Doolan.

Doolan faced the media yesterday before tonight’s Championship fixture with Livingston and cynics might venture that Hibs manager Stubbs’ absence was to avoid the risk of the slanging match with Warburton developing further.

The Rangers manager has taken firm exception to Stubbs’ contention that managing the Ibrox side is “easier” because of the greater financial backing. And Warburton again this week urged Stubbs to mind his own business – accusing him of “picking numbers out of the sky” when pondering the size of Rangers’ budget compared to Hibs. (The Scotsman)

Jason Cummings ‘more daft’ than Leigh Griffiths

Hibs centre back Paul Hanlon sees similarities between Jason Cummings and former Hibs favourite Leigh Griffiths - but insists Cummings is the ‘dafter of the two’.

While both have reputations for some off the park antics as well as their goalscoring prowess, Hanlon revealed that Griffiths was more of an introverted character, where as Cummings loves to play the joker.

“Leigh came across more to people on the outside as being a daft boy, but when he was in the club he was quite quiet,” he said. “He did his training on the pitch and just got himself up the road. But Jason’s more daft. The way he talks and the way he is, every day.” (The Scotsman)