Neil Lennon admits that he misses Old Firm derbies, but says Rangers will be weakened on return to top flight; Kris Boyd vows to make most of Scotland chance; Rangers defender hits out at Brazil superstar Neymar, plus the rest of today’s football news
Kris Boyd vows to make most of Scotland chance
Kris Boyd has pledged to make the most of the opportunity to revive his international career after he and Dundee United midfielder Stuart Armstrong were drafted into the Scotland squad last night.
The Kilmarnock striker was called up by Scotland manager Gordon Strachan to bolster his attacking options for tomorrow night’s challenge match in Norway after Steven Fletcher was allowed to return to Sunderland as he continues his return to full fitness after a recent shoulder injury.
It ends over three years in the international wilderness for Boyd who last appeared for Scotland when they struggled to a 2-1 win over Liechtenstein at Hampden in September 2010. (Scotsman)
Steven Naismith: Steven Fletcher return a boost
Scotland striker Steven Naismith has hailed Steven Fletcher’s return to the national side as he dismissed suggestions he had felt hard done by after making way for the Sunderland forward on Friday against the USA.
After the excellence of his displays in leading the line for Scotland in their two previous games against Macedonia and Croatia, the Everton forward was still left out of the match against the USA in order to accommodate Steven Fletcher’s return to the side.
But there are no gripes with manager Gordon Strachan’s decision from Naismith who accepts Fletcher’s status as the country’s number one front man.
“I thought that he was one of the real positives for us against the USA. Over the years he’s matured into a great striker, which he’s shown at club level, so the more games we can give him for Scotland, the better.” (Scotsman)
Rangers will struggle to return to top-tier at full strength, says Neil Lennon
Neil Lennon yesterday said Rangers would return to Scotland’ top flight in a weakened state, but admitted that he missed the excitement of Old Firm derbies.
The Celtic manager said he would relish a return to competing against the Ibrox side on a regular basis, telling Sky Sports: “The to-ing and fro-ing with Rangers is always exciting. You also miss the competitiveness and, of course, the game because it’s one of the greatest derbies. There is always drama and energy in thse games.”
He added: “I don’t think Rangers will be as strong initially as they were, though, as they will have to build up slowly and stabilise.”
Lennon also said that he expected Celtic and Rangers to play in England at some stage, though admitted that the move may not happen “in my time.” (Herald, The Sun)
Derek Adams launches attack on St Mirren captain Jim Goodwin
Derek Adams launched a remarkable attack on St Mirren captain Jim Goodwin and the match officials as nine-man Ross County lost in Paisley.
The outspoken County manager was furious that Goodwin was not booked during the game and got away with a clear handball offence in the final minute. And he inferred that referee Willie Collum and his assistant Charlie Smith turned a blind eye to the incident.
Adams said: “Jim Goodwin wasn’t playing today, was he? Seven or eight fouls and never got a booking. He handled the ball last week, and he handled the ball this week. So I don’t think he plays football any more. The referees don’t actually see Jim Goodwin. That must be a great thing as how he got through the game without being booked is actually terrible. He walks about the park, kicks lumps out of people and fouls and nothing happens. (Scotsman)
Alex McLeish puzzled at Alan Hutton’s omission at Aston Villa
Alex McLeish has given his backing to defender Alan Hutton as the full-back continues to sit on the sidelines at Aston Villa. Former Scotland manager McLeish, who signed Hutton from Spurs during his time at the Midlands club, said Hutton was a “fighter” and was still playing at a high level. McLeish also suggested that his ties to Hutton may be affecting the former Rangers defender’s chances under Paul Lambert.
He said: “Alan is still playing at a really high standard. It’s a shame what happened to him at Villa. Maybe they took it out on him because they didn’t like me!
“I had to cut costs there and Paul has had to do more.”
He added: “Maybe Paul doesn’t fancy him technically or perhaps he feels the atmosphere isn’t right for Alan to to play because the Villa supporters aren’t his biggest fans.” (The Sun)
Rangers’ Peralta blasts Neymar after Brazil defeat
Rangers player Arnold Peralta had an extraordinary bust-up with Brazilian superstar Neymar after his Honduran side were destroyed by the Barcelona forward.
Peralta and Celtic defender Emilio Izaguirre featured as Honduras were ripped apart 5-0 by the World Cup hosts in Miami. The game featured a running battle between Honduran right-back Peralta and Neymar.
Neymar refused to shake Peralta’s hand after the game and later posted pictures on his Twitter account of his bruised and bloodied legs after the fiery encounter, with the caption, ‘great victory...just about got out alive.’
However, Peralta accused him of being an actor after their clashes.
He said: “He is a player who 100 per cent plays like he belongs in a theatre. He plays for the fans, not for his team mates. You can’t play against him because he complains to the ref all the time and the ref gives him everything.
“We all know you cannot touch him because he goes down straight away. The slightest contact and he drops and the referees always fall for it. (Scotsman)