DCSIMG

Rumour Mill: Phil Bardsley | Fraser Forster | Ann Budge

Tynecastle Stadium. Picture: SNS

Tynecastle Stadium. Picture: SNS

Phil Bardsley to return to the Scotland set up, Fraser Forster is set to break the Scottish clean sheet record

and Ann Budge sounds rallying call to Hearts fans.

Strachan set to recall Bardsley

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan is set to recall Sunderland defender Phil Bardsley to the international fold two years after he last made an appearance for his country.

Bardsley last played in Scotland’s 5 - 1 defeat to the US and is reported to be in the squad for Scotland’s friendly against Poland in March. (Scotsman)

• Sunderland’s Steven Fletcher is expected to be fit again and included in the squad for Scotland’s match against Poland

Fraser Forster deserving of England berth - Butcher

Hibs boss and ex-England captain Terry Butcher says Celtic no 1 Fraser Forster is deserving of the England goalkeeper’s shirt.

Forster has not lost a league goal in 1,124 minutes of action and if he makes it past the 31st minute against Hearts this weekend he will have set a new Scottish record. (Scotsman)

• Celtic are keeping close tabs on Portuguese keeper Ricardo, 31, as a possible replacement for Forster should the Englishman depart in the summer

Budge pledges to bring stability to Hearts

Self-made millionaire Ann Budge has written to 55,000 Hearts supporters to say she will do everything in her power to bring financial stability to Hearts and that she will only succeed with their support.

The IT entrepreneur said her aim was to ensure the club is freed from private ownership.

A lead member of the Foundation of Hearts movement, she is the sole director of Bidco, the company charged with taking over the club, and will put £2.5m of her own money into acquiring the club. (Scotsman)

• Hearts midfielder Jason Holt is set to make a surprise return against Celtic this weekend having returned to training after breaking a bone in his foot in November

Ray Wilkins suffering same condition as Fletcher

Sacked Fulham assistant manager Ray Wilkins says he is suffering from the same chronic bowel condition

as Manchester United’s Darren Fletcher and that he is also prone to bouts of depression.

The former Rangers player made the comments in an attempt to rescue his management career following his dismissal.

Claims were made from inside Fulham that Wilkins was worse for wear in the dugout for Fulham’s 3 - 2 defeat to

Liverpool last Wednesday. The result led to the sacking of manager Rene Meulensteen and his backroom staff. (Mail)

IN BRIEF

• Motherwell have cut their losses to £184,500 compared to £600,00 the previous year

• Stenhousemuir have appointed Scott Booth has manager once he has served his notice as Scotland under-17 coach. He will take up his post at the beginning of next month

• St Johnstone expect 21-goal striker Stevie May to leave in the summer but are open to contract talks in a bid to convince him to stay

• Kilmarnock defender Rory McKeown has gone on loan to Cowdenbeath until the end of the season

SPFL ON YOUTUBE

Martin “Jimmy” Scott scored a Goal of the Season contender for Livingston in their SPFL Scottish Championship match against Alloa Athletic. Scott’s brilliant lob from just inside the Alloa half caught goalkeeper Craig McDowall off-guard, as Livi went on to win 3-0.

GOALS

TAnthony Stokes – CELTIC vs St Johnstone:

The Irishman completed an impressive hat-trick (the sixth of his professional career), with this first goal arguably the pick of the three.

Alexei Eremenko – Kilmarnock vs Dundee United:

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:

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:

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.

{ http://po.st/HiggyPT|Kallum Higginbotham – Motherwell vs Partick Thistle:|alt text}

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

Text to display Richie Brittain – Hibernian vs Ross County:

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.

All 19 goals from this weekend’s action.

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.

It’s February in Scotland. It’s cold. So, Dundee United’s mascots try to overcome this.

Celtic fans, meanwhile, go “taps aff” during their match against St Johnstone. Watch here:

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Motherwell 4-3 Partick Thistle:

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:

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:

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.

Celtic 3-0 St Johnstone:

Anthony Stokes scored a hat-trick and Fraser Forster kept his 12th consecutive clean sheet as Celtic beat St Johnstone 3-0 at Celtic Park in the SPFL. Leigh Griffiths started for the champions for the first time since his deadline-day move from Wolves but it was his Irish strike partner who stole the show.

Inverness CT 0-0 Hearts:

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

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

 

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