Stuart McCall insists Rangers won’t train on plastic pitch ahead of play-off tie; Celtic duo pick up gongs as Commons slammed over ‘lack of respect; Alan Stubbs backs strikers to secure promotion for Hibs and Genero Zeefuik keen on Hearts return
Rangers to shun plastic pitch training
STUART McCall insists Rangers won’t spend time training on artificial turf ahead of their play-off clash with Queen of the South - as the last time they did they were beaten 3-0.
McCall’s men will have to beat the Palmerston Park outfit over two legs to win the right to face Hibernian in the play-off semi final; a potentially stern task given the fact that Queens have already beaten the Ibrox side twice in Dumfries, 2-0 and 3-0.
McCall said: “We trained on the artificial surface at Murray Park before we went down to Palmerston the last time - and we ended up losing 3-0. So it didn’t exactly help us and, being superstitious, it’s fair to say we won’t be doing it this time!” (Various)
Lawwell proud of Celtic’s ‘third-highest UK support’
CELTIC reportedly have the third-highest support in the UK, behind Manchester United and Arsenal, according to the Hoops website.
The figures put the Hoops ahead of Premier League champions Chelsea, previous EPL winners Manchester City and the likes of Liverpool, Spurs, Newcastle and rivals Rangers.
Paying tribute to the fans, Lawwell told celticfc.net: “At the moment we’ve still got the third-highest season book numbers in the UK, after Manchester United and Arsenal, and what a fantastic achievement that is.
“[The supporters] have stuck by us. We have had transition, we have had change and I’d like to thank every one of them. They’ve been absolutely magnificent.” (Various)
Celtic duo pick up PFA gongs
CELTIC pair Stefan Johansen and Jason Denayer won the Cheque Centre PFA Scotland player and young player of the year awards last night.
John Hughes was named manager of the year after guiding Inverness Caledonian Thistle to the Scottish Cup final and to their current position of third place in the league.
Hibs talisman Scott Allan collected the Championship player of the year award ahead of the Hearts trio of Alim Ozturk, Jamie Walker and Morgaro Gomis.
And 24-year-old Johansen was voted the best player in Scotland following his first full season in the country. He scored 12 goals as Celtic lifted both the league title and League Cup, beating fellow nominees Adam Rooney of Aberdeen and Dundee’s Greg Stewart as well as Virgil van Dijk to the award.
Denayer, 19, took the young player of the year award prior to returning to his parent club. He was unsure whether there was any chance he might return to Celtic Park next season. “I need to wait until summer and see what is going to happen,” he said. (The Scotsman)
Logan blasts Commons over ‘lack of respect’
ABERDEEN defender Shay Logan has hit out at Kris Commons for a ‘lack of respect’ after the Celtic midfielder suggested the Dons had never been in the running for the Scottish Premiership title.
Logan said: “It is disrespectful of Kris Commons to say there has been no title race. It’s all well and good saying that when he needed us to lose a game but he wasn’t saying that two months ago and wasn’t saying that when his team played us.
“That’s his opinion and fair play to him and Celtic for winning the league. But they have to play us next week and we hope to right a few wrongs in the game. I’m very proud of the team and the way we have performed this season.” (The Scotsman)
Stubbs back strike duo to fire Hibs into top flight
ALAN Stubbs has backed strikers Jason Cummings and Dominique Malonga to get the goals which will take Hibs back to the Premiership.
The pair have both been on target in the Easter Road club’s last three matches, Cummings taking his tally for the season to 20, while Malonga notched his 16th as the Capital outfit clinched second place in the Championship table with a comprehensive 3-0 win over bogey team Falkirk.
Stubbs said: “[Malonga] has looked great since he has come back into the team. He’s looking really sharp, looking like he is back on his game, which bodes well for the remaining games.
“But it’s good to have two strikers in such form. Jason has a really good habit and knack of being in the right place at the right time. I think any striker needs that, it’s not something that you can give someone, you can’t necessarily teach them.” (Evening News)
Zeefuik to beg Groningen for Hearts return
Genero Zeefuik hasn’t given up hope of playing in Edinburgh next season and intends to hold talks with parent club Groningen about his future, according to reports.
The Dutch striker’s late double earned Hearts a 2-2 draw with Rangers on Saturday on the final day of the Scottish Championship campaign.
But Groningen want a transfer fee for the 25-year-old, whose contract does not expire until next year. Hearts will not pay money for him, nor do they want to match the salary he is on in the Netherlands. Zeefuik must therefore bargain with the Groningen board to have any chance of returning to Scotland.
“I go back to Groningen tomorrow and I will train there. Once the season finishes there we are going to talk. Maybe I can come here to Hearts or go to another club. I don’t know. We will see at the end of the season. Of course there is a small chance I can stay. I don’t think Groningen want me,” he said. (Evening News)
News in brief
• Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood is weighing up a summer move for Scotland left-back Andrew Robertson
• Henrik Larsson insists the Old Firm derby eclipses El Clasico in terms of atmosphere and fans
• Miguel Pallardo will appear in court today as part of a Spanish match-fixing case. The Hearts midfielder was one of 42 people named by anti-corruption authorities probing a match in 2011