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Rumour Mill: Lennon | Celtic | Bell | Rangers

Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths. Picture: SNS

Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths. Picture: SNS

Neil Lennon plays down Celtic quit reports; Cammy Bell can be Rangers’ next Allan McGregor, says Richard Foster; Leigh Griffiths can be deadly strike partner, says Anthony Stokes, plus the rest of today’s football news and gossip

Celtic: Green Brigade a welcome boost, says Lennon

NEIL LENNON has welcomed the return of the controversial Green Brigade fans group to Celtic Park and expressed his hope they remain as part of the match-day make-up of the club.

Around 200 supporters gathered behind a Green Brigade banner in Section 118 of the East Stand for yesterday’s Scottish Premiership game against St Johnstone. Their appearance came just two months after Celtic took action to disperse the Green Brigade from their established location in Section 111 at the opposite corner of the same stand.

Celtic manager Lennon instructed the players to salute them at the end of the match and praised their contribution afterwards. He said: “Whoever they were, and I don’t know if they were the official Green Brigade or not – I can’t thank them enough. They made a hell of a difference to the atmosphere today and I would think that the players would have thrived on it.” (Scotsman)

Neil Lennon unhappy with Celtic quit reports

Neil Lennon has dismissed reports suggesting that he was on the brink of leaving Celtic.

Speaking after Celtic extended their lead at the top of the table with a 3-0 win over St Johnstone, Lennon committed his future to the club.

He said: “I was unhappy with them. I don’t know where they came from. I was asked, ‘Do you think you have taken the club as far as you can?’

“I said, ‘Well, maybe the last 16 in the Champions League is as far as we can go for the time being’, so it was taken completely out of context.

“I hope I will be here for the long haul. I haven’t changed my mind on anything. I’ve got work to do here.” (Daily Record)

Cammy Bell can be Allan McGregor mkII - Foster

Rangers’ Richard Foster has praised team-mate Cammy Bell, comparing him to his predecessor between the sticks Allan McGregor. Bell, who signed from Kilmarnock last year, has earned plaudits for his performances in his first full season at Rangers, and has been backed for a Scotland call-up by Foster.

He said: “Cammy’s a top-class keeper. I’m lucky enough to have worked with Allan and there are a lot of similarities. The reflexes, he’s a great shotstopper. You have to put a ball right into the corner to beat him. In the past few weeks he’s come up with big saves at times. I’m sure if he keeps up that type of form the Scotland manager will have a look at him.” (Daily Record)

Stokes says he and Griffiths will make deadly duo

Anthony Stokes has backed Celtic’s latest signing Leigh Griffiths to form a formidable striking partnership. The duo spearheaded Celtic’s attack yesterday, with Stokes helping himself to all three goals in Celtic’s win over St Johnstone.

He said: “Leigh works his socks off and is a great finisher so is going to be a great addition to the squad.

“Today definitely gave me a bit more space. You could see it with a couple of the goals when we were dragging players around. Fingers crossed we can get a pairing.”

Stokes added: “Throughout the season we’ve been playing with just me up top.

“But we played a slightly different formation today. We played two up top with Kris Commons playing in the hole.

“Leigh will probably just need a game or two to settle in.” (Daily Express)

Rangers still have to work for title - Jon Daly

Striker Jon Daly insists the League One leaders still have work to do if they are to ­complete the second stage of their recovery.

Rangers can now clinch ­promotion to the Championship with five more wins, ­provided the Pars do not slip up before their decisive 15 March meeting in Glasgow and hand Gers the title sooner.

But Daly, whose side booked a William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final slot against Albion Rovers by beating Jim Jefferies’ team 4-0 last week, claims the Light Blues are not getting ahead of themselves just yet.

He said: “We need to keep going. There’s been a lot said about us being contenders for the Scottish Cup but obviously we’d like to keep winning games in the league and that’s our bread and butter.” (Scotsman)

SEE ALSO

Stephen Halliday: Rangers’ class can only be tested by a top side

“The current Rangers side, as it should do with the salary budget it has, does have players of genuine Scottish top-flight quality. Goalkeeper Cammy Bell, left-back Lee Wallace, midfielder Nicky Law, winger David Templeton and striker Jon Daly would all be widely regarded as first- team material for any of the Premiership teams who remain in the Scottish Cup.

“Until Rangers have to face one of those Premiership outfits, it remains a matter of conjecture as to how they collectively compare to them.” (Scotsman)

SPFL VIDEOS

GOALS

Alexei Eremenko – Kilmarnock vs Dundee United: http://po.st/Alexei

The Finnish international first goal on his return to Kilmarnock is a stunning snap-shot that defeated Radoslaw Cierzniak at his near post.

Sam Stanton – HIBERNIAN vs Ross County: http://po.st/Stanton

Hibernian midfielder Sam Stanton curls home a beautiful free kick from 20 yards to give Hibs the lead during the 2-1 win over Ross County

John Rankin – DUNDEE UNITED vs Kilmarnock: http://po.st/rankindu

Rankin managed to score from an obscure angle to win the match for the Arabs, firing a strike from the by-line which crashed off the post and went in.

Kallum Higginbotham – Motherwell vs Partick Thistle: http://po.st/HiggyPT

Kallum Higginbotham scores a stunning solo goal to double his own tally in the match and put Partick Thistle ahead during the 4-3 defeat to Motherwell at Fir Park

Richie Brittain – Hibernian vs Ross County: http://po.st/Brittain

Dead-ball specialist Richard Brittain curls in a great free kick to pull his side back into the game during the 2-1 defeat to Hibernian at Easter Road in the SPFL Scottish Premiership.

FOOTBALL FUNNIES

Dundee United’s John Rankin gets taken out by teammate Nadir Ciftci in the celebrations that follow his winner for the Arabs against Kilmarnock. Watch here: http://po.st/RankinDrop

It’s February in Scotland. It’s cold. So, Dundee United’s mascots try to overcome this. Watch how here: http://po.st/Mascots

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Motherwell 4-3 Partick Thistle: http://po.st/WELLvPTFC

Motherwell scored twice in the last five minutes as they came from behind to beat Partick Thistle 4-3 in a thriller at Fir Park.

Dundee United 3-2 Kilmarnock: http://po.st/DUvKIL

Newcastle United loanee Curtis Good scored his first goal for Dundee United as they edged out Kilmarnock 3-2 at Tannadice in the Premiership.

Hibernian 2-1 Ross County: http://po.st/HIBSvRC

Sam Stanton and Richard Brittain both scored stunning free kicks but Tom Taiwo’s goal proved to be the difference as Hibernian beat Ross County 2-1 at Easter Road.

Inverness CT 0-0 Hearts: http://po.st/ICTvHEARTS

Hearts’ unbeaten run in the Scottish Premiership was extended to four games with a draw in the Highland capital against Inverness CT.

St Mirren 0-1 Aberdeen: http://po.st/StMvABD

Aberdeen continued their excellent run of form as Adam Rooney converted a late penalty to see off St Mirren.

‘Great Wall’ Fraser Forster keeps another clean sheet

Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster maintains his excellent form with another clean sheet against St Johnsone. The England international is closing in on former Aberdeen goalkeeper Bobby Clark’s shut-out record, which has stood for 43 years.

 

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