Rumour Mill: Gordon Strachan fired up | Joey Barton stokes Celtic rivalry | Rodgers excited by Gamboa

Gordon Strachan has warned not to underestimate Malta - ranked 176th in the world. Picture: John Devlin

Gordon Strachan has warned not to underestimate Malta - ranked 176th in the world. Picture: John Devlin

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Gordon Strachan dismisses claims his heart is no longer in the Scotland manager job ahead of the team’s World Cup qualifier against Malta; Joey Barton stokes up the rivalry between the Old Firm clubs; plus more news and gossip in Sunday’s Rumour Mill

Gordon Strachan: Don’t be fooled by Malta’s standings

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has warned that Malta - currently ranked 176th in the world - should not be underestimated ahead of their World Cup qualifier on Sunday evening.

Strachan said he won’t be taking anything for granted, after criticising the method of sorting countries into rankings.

He said: “It’s complete and utter nonsense to have a side who only lost 1-0 to Croatia at 176th in the world.”

The 59-year-old also hit back at claims that his heart was no longer in the Scotland job, insisting he was as driven as ever thanks to young stars like Oliver Burke, Tony Watt and Barrie McKay. (Sunday Mail)

Barton claims Brown is not in his league

Rangers’ Joey Barton has thrown down the gauntlet ahead of his side’s showdown with Celtic on Saturday by claiming ex-Scotland skipper Scott Brown is not in his league as a player.

Brown is in the shape of his life, according to Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers.

He said: “Scotty will be no different. These are passionate games but I’ll ask him to be the same in this game as the way he has been in other games.” (Sunday Mail)

- Despite Joey Barton’s loose talk on Twitter, Rangers boss Mark Warburton has insisted he has no problems with him.

He said: “Joey gives his opinion. I think he’s always clear on that. He doesn’t say it’s right, he says it’s my opinion.”

Barton has taken to social media to taunt Scott Brown, Brendan Rodgers and the calibre of players at large playing in the Scottish leagues. Scotland on Sunday

Brendan Rodgers ‘excited’ by Gamboa signing

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers is excited by the signing of Cristian Gamboa from West Brom, claiming he’s “the type of player I like.”

Gamboa penned a three-year deal with the Bhoys before the transfer deadline window closed for business.

Rodgers told Celtic TV: “He’s very much on the front foot, he’s super quick, but first and foremost he can defend.

“So I’m looking forward to seeing him work and play with us.” (Insidefutbol.com)

Atakayi waited ‘a long time’ to land Ibrox deal

New Rangers signing Serge Atakayi has said he has been waiting for the Ibrox move for a long time.

The young Finn arrived at the club earlier in the summer on trial with a view to a permanent move.

Little had been said between the start of his trial and the transfer deadline day before Rangers swooped to land the winger. (Scottish Sun)

Tony Watt happy at Hearts

Tony Watt has said that his bank balance would have been better off playing in England but Hearts will enrich his development - and make his family happy.

The former Celtic striker believes that playing at Tynecastle will finally bring some stability after a stuttering career.

Watt has been surprised many after being drafted ahead of Ross McCormack to replace Leigh Griffiths in Scotland’s World Cup qualifier in Malta. (Various)

NEWS IN BRIEF

• Dundee United Ray McKinnon has tipped Tony Andreu to be a revelation for the club after his display against Peterhead. (Sunday Mail)

• Hibs coach Neil Lennon has insisted Jason Cummings can handle the flak he is getting off the field. (Sunday Express)

• Darren Fletcher has said it is vital that the pressure is not piled on Scotland’s £15 million wonderkid, Oliver Burke. (Scottish Sun)

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