Rumour Mill: Qarabag v Celtic | Scott Allan | Warburton’s 6am starts

Hibernian's Scott Allan. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Hibernian's Scott Allan. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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FORMER Rangers player Alex Rae concerned over Scott Allan’s mental state if he stays at Hibernian; Qarabag defender Ansi Agolli insists they can beat Celtic in Azerbaijan; Rangers boss Mark Warburton opens up about his early morning regime, plus all the rest of today’s football news and gossip

Qarabag’s Agolli: We dominated Celtic

Ansi Agolli, the Qarabag defender, insists that Qarabag dominated Celtic in their Champions League qualifier at Parkhead – and will turn around their one-goal deficit in Azerbaijan.

He said: “We showed out ability at Celtic Park. We controlled the game and were superior, We dictated play and missed good chances. Celtic were dangerous, so were we. We must be careful not to concede but with our passionate fans, I believe we can win at least 2-0 or 3-1, or maybe more, to make sure we qualify for the next round.” Meanwhile, Leigh Griffiths looks set to be fit for the tie on Wednesday after limping off during Celtic’s 2-0 win over Ross County. Ronny Deila insisted that the injury Griffiths sustained was “just a knock” on his calf. (Sun on Sunday)

Scott Allan faces tricky time, says Alex Rae

Alex Rae, the former Rangers player, has said that his old side’s offer of £225,000 is a fair price for emerging talent Scott Allan. Pointing out that Dundee United had offered a similar amount that Hibernian were less inclined to be dismissive about, Rae also said that he worried for Allan’s mental state if he were to remain at Easter Road.

He said: “This is a tricky time for Scott. He has tried to force Hibs’ hand but they have stood strong. If Rangers were to go to £500,000 that would be an inflated price. [£225,000 is] a realistic offer, considering Rangers can get him in four months on a pre-contract.” (Sunday Mail)

Hearts will maintain same style of play

Robbie Neilson’s Hearts side may be bigger, stronger and bolder, but he has pledged to maintain his team’s style of play as they begin the season in a new division. Suspicions that Hearts will be more cautious and play like a team just promoted to the top flight are unfounded, he said. 
“We’ve brought in a lot of new faces, so it’s trying to get them bedded into the team and trying to get them to understand how we want to play. They’re good players so I don’t think it will take long. It will be a similar style to last season. We’ll pass the ball, but you need to win games. That’s it.” (Scotland on Sunday)

Read Andrew Smith’s preview of Celtic’s Champions League qualifying match against Qarabag

Rangers’ Tavernier ready for ‘street fight’

New Rangers signing James Tavernier has signalled his willingness to scrap it out in the physical environs of the Scottish Championship. Though the defender said he looks up to full-backs such as Brazilian internationals Marcelo and Dani Alves, he expects a much different task than the one that duo typically faces.

“As a Yorkshireman, we used to love going in for hard challenges,” he said. “When I was in the academy at Leeds, we’d have competitions to smash into each other. That’s definitely in my game. I love going in for 50-50s. My first loan was to Gateshead in the Conference. So I went from the under-21s at Newcastle, playing in nice stadiums to man’s football where people played for a living.” (Scotland on Sunday)

Read Aidan Smith’s column on 40 years of the Scottish Premier Division

Rangers boss Warburton an early riser

Rangers manager Mark Warburton is getting in at 6am every day to work on his side’s bid to escape the Scottish Championship – and he’s made assistant Davie Weir a convert, too, “much to his disgust”.

Warburton, who said his side must show “resilience, toughness and physicality” as well as technical ability, said his routine was helpful for clearing his head and giving him space to plan.

“It’s great because it is so quiet. The first thing is a cup of coffee. It allows you to to go through your training, it allows you to think about your team, about staff and about going through various aspects. It just allows you to do your job.” (Sun on Sunday)

Aberdeen caught between Europa League success and title bid

Derek McInnes has said that his squad face a dilemma: build a proper challenge for the Scottish Premiership title, or chase progress in the Europa League ties that await Aberdeen.

Admitting that doing well in Europe would likely hamper his efforts in the league, McInnes said: “You see squads at Everton, Swansea, Tottenham and Newcastle, and any time they have been involved in Europa League football, it’s had a real impact on their domestic campaigns. It’s something that might be worth addressing if we get through this tie. We would be fully stretched and would need more resources if that was to be the case.” (The Mail on Sunday)

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