{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"sport","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/competitions/premiership/revealed-how-the-scottish-premiership-could-finish-based-on-current-form-1-4831760","id":"1.4831760","articleHeadline": "Revealed: How the Scottish Premiership could finish based on current form","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542622506000 ,"articleLead": "

A projected final Scottish Premiership table has been revealed, suggesting where teams will finish based on current form.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831758.1542622503!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "talkSPORT has issued a projected table showing the final league positions in the Scottish top flight. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

talkSPORT has produced a predicted final table for the Scottish top flight, despite two-thirds of the season left to play.

Celtic currently top the pile but just five points separate the top six clubs, which includes Hearts, Rangers and St Johnstone, who are on a run of five victories.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dundee are predicted to be automatically relegated while St Mirren are tipped to finish in 11th and contest the play-offs.

Despite the McDiarmid Park’s five-game winning streak, Tommy Wright’s men are projected to finish in the bottom half of the table, in seventh.

Aberdeen’s run of second-place finishes is predicted to come to an end, with the Jambos finishing in the coveted runners-up spot ahead of Rangers in third.

The Dons are expected to finish in fourth, with Kilmarnock in fifth and Hibs completing the top six.

Behind St Johnstone in seventh spot are Livingston in eighth, Motherwell in ninth and Hamilton in tenth spot.

Full table

1. Celtic

2. Hearts

3. Rangers

4. Aberdeen

5. Kilmarnock

6. Hibs

7. St Johnstone

8. Livingston

9. Motherwell

10. Hamilton

11. St Mirren (Ladbrokes Premiership play-off final)

12. Dundee (relegated)

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831758.1542622503!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831758.1542622503!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "talkSPORT has issued a projected table showing the final league positions in the Scottish top flight. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "talkSPORT has issued a projected table showing the final league positions in the Scottish top flight. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831758.1542622503!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5790964474001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/competitions/premiership/scottish-football-live-celtic-want-welsh-right-back-hearts-trial-for-french-winger-papac-keen-on-rangers-job-1-4831736","id":"1.4831736","articleHeadline": "Scottish Football Live: Celtic want Welsh right-back | Hearts trial for French winger | Papac keen on Rangers job","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542620248000 ,"articleLead": "

Follow The Scotsman’s daily blog as we keep you updated with all the latest news, views, rumours and much more from around Scottish football.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831734.1542620243!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Connor Roberts is wanted by Celtic. Picture: Harry Trump/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

Refresh for live updates.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831734.1542620243!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831734.1542620243!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Connor Roberts is wanted by Celtic. Picture: Harry Trump/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Connor Roberts is wanted by Celtic. Picture: Harry Trump/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831734.1542620243!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5795175013001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/celtic/rumour-mill-celtic-eye-championship-ace-rangers-defender-slammed-by-west-ham-star-mcleish-targets-welsh-gk-for-scotland-1-4831717","id":"1.4831717","articleHeadline": "Rumour Mill: Celtic eye Championship ace | Rangers defender slammed by West Ham star | McLeish targets Welsh GK for Scotland","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542615494000 ,"articleLead": "

Celtic linked with defender, Rangers man slammed by West Ham forward and McLeish targets new Scotland goalkeeper

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831715.1542617140!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brendan Rodgers is reportedly looking to strengthen his defence. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

Celtic keen on Roberts

Celtic are keen on Swansea City right-back Connor Roberts, according to reports.

Brendan Rodgers is understood to be prioritising back-up in the position ahead of January, after missing out on Cristiano Piccini in the summer and Roberts is seen as an affordable target as his contract is up in the summer.

The seven-times capped Wales international has made 16 appearances for the Liberty Stadium side this season. (Various)

Gers defender ‘tried to choke me’

Marko Arnautovic has slammed Rangers defender Gareth McAuley and accused the veteran of trying to choke him in Austria’s 2-1 win against Northern Ireland on Sunday.

The West Ham forward was a second half substitute and clashed with McAuley on the ground, with the former West Brom stopper appearing to wrap his arm around Arnautovic’s neck.

The forward didn’t react at the time but said after the match: “He tried to choke me, or fight me. But it is not a good idea to fight me.” (Various)

McLeish eyes Welsh ‘keeper for Scotland

Alex McLeish is hoping to convince Welsh-born ‘keeper Chris Maxwell to switch allegiances to Scotland.

The 28-year-old Preston goalie has a Scottish-born grandparent and while he has been capped by Wales at Under-18, Under-19, Under-21 and Under-23 level and included in senior squads he is yet to receive a full international cap.

The ‘keeper, who has also had spells at Wrexham, Connah’s Quay, Fleetwood Town and Cambridge United, is a target for the Scotland boss as he looks to bolster his pool of players. (The Sun)

Hearts take French winger on trial

French winger Killian Colombie is set to join Hearts on trial this winter after impressing in the American college leagues.

The Iona College Gaels player plans to train with the Edinburgh club’s reserves as he seeks a route into professional football. Colombie, 23, was born in Paris and played with Paris Saint-Germain as a youth before moving to study in the United States in 2015. He is able to play wide right or wide left and can also operate at right-back if necessary. (Evening News)

Hibs kids urged to learn from internationalists

Hibs’ young players have been urged to make the most of training alongside the Easter Road outfit’s army of internationalists.

Martin Boyle’s Australia debut takes the number of full caps to an unprecedented 14 for 11 countries and Eddie May, head of academy coaching, insists his youngsters have a unique opportunity to listen and learn from players who have not only represented countries ranging from Australia to Holland and Nigeria to the United States, but have played for clubs such as Juventus, Liverpool, Feyenoord and Panathinaikos. (Evening News)

Ex-Ibrox star offers to scout for Rangers

Former Rangers defender Sasa Papac has offered to undertake scouting missions for the Ibrox side.

The Bosnian ace, who won eight trophies during his time with the Gers, believes Steven Gerrard can restore the club to former glories.

Papac added: “If I can help, then I am here. Scouting and watching players is not my job but in future who knows? I have no job right now and I am waiting.” (Various)

McLeish in rallying call ahead of Israel clash

Alex McLeish is looking for Scotland’s crushing victory in Albania on Saturday night to be a call to arms for the Nations League climax at Hampden tomorrow.

A win over Israel would secure top placing in Group C1 and earn a play-off berth that the Scotland manager believes would engender a feel-good factor going into the standard Euro 2020 qualifying campaign next 
year.

McLeish said: “We thank the fans who came to Albania, they were terrific, and we gave them something to cheer about. They should be phoning around all their pals and saying ‘get to Hampden on Tuesday’.” (The Scotsman)

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831715.1542617140!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831715.1542617140!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Brendan Rodgers is reportedly looking to strengthen his defence. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brendan Rodgers is reportedly looking to strengthen his defence. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831715.1542617140!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5790964474001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/scotland/alex-mcleish-urges-scotland-fans-get-to-hampden-for-the-israel-game-1-4831687","id":"1.4831687","articleHeadline": "Alex McLeish urges Scotland fans: ‘Get to Hampden for the Israel game’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542607200000 ,"articleLead": "

Alex McLeish is looking for Scotland’s crushing victory in Albania on Saturday night to be a call to arms for the Nations League climax at Hampden tomorrow.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831686.1542580806!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland manager Alex McLeish applauds the 2,000 travelling fans after the 4-0 Nations League win against Albania. Picture: Adam Davy/PA"} ,"articleBody": "

A win for McLeish’s men over Israel then would secure top placing in Group C1 and earn a Euro 2020 play-off berth that the Scotland manager believes would engender a feel-good factor going into the standard Euro 2020 qualifying campaign next 
year that will precede the two-stage play-off.

Over 2,000 members of the Tartan Army watched Scotland turn in one of their finest away displays in recent times to register a 4-0 success in Shkoder. McLeish is hopeful they will now seek to spread the word and ensure a sizeable turn-out tomorrow at a Hampden that has never been even half full for any international across 2018.

“We thank the fans who came to Albania, they were terrific, and we gave them something to cheer about,” McLeish said. “They should be phoning around all their pals and saying ‘get to Hampden on Tuesday’.”

McLeish said it “certainly would” create great excitement were Scotland to reach a first play-off in 15 years during their two-decade exile from major finals.

He said “the plan” across his second spell was to bring back a feel-good factor missing at international level for “too long”.

“I’ve got pals on a WhatsApp group up in Aberdeen, the Goblin Golf society, and they are all rabid Scotland fans and the banter was pretty good before Albania and has been even better since.

“Remarkably, even after the win in Albania, the players have their feet on the ground.

“Even in the dressing room they were already talking about ‘nothing else matters except Tuesday’. They were round each other, congratulating each other, the mood is good, no question about that. They know what’s at stake now and they’re concentrating on that.

“They will get a wee bit of rest and then we have to get them going again on Monday.”

McLeish agreed that the Albanian victory could be ranked alongside some of the “pretty big wins” he presided over in his first spell as Scotland manager.

Certainly, with the number of players out – and the knives already out for him personally only nine months into this tenure – the resounding nature of the display felt significant.

“I felt that, with the team that we set out, and the work we’d done in the week, everything just felt it was going in the right direction apart from the call-offs,” McLeish said.

“The performance level was terrific and I said that, if they brought their top performance to the team, I would be really positive about getting the win.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANDREW SMITH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831686.1542580806!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831686.1542580806!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland manager Alex McLeish applauds the 2,000 travelling fans after the 4-0 Nations League win against Albania. Picture: Adam Davy/PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland manager Alex McLeish applauds the 2,000 travelling fans after the 4-0 Nations League win against Albania. Picture: Adam Davy/PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831686.1542580806!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/rugby-union/scotland/no-changes-to-the-way-scotland-play-vows-gregor-townsend-1-4831689","id":"1.4831689","articleHeadline": "No changes to the way Scotland play, vows Gregor Townsend","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542607200000 ,"articleLead": "

Gregor Townsend insists Scotland will stick to their free-flowing instincts despite being agonisingly edged out by South Africa in a thrilling Test match at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831688.1542581289!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend. Picture: SNS/SRU"} ,"articleBody": "

With Argentina closing the autumn series this weekend, it will then be on to a huge 2019 with the Six Nations and World Cup to look forward to. The Scots were magnificent at times on Saturday, scoring world-class tries through Pete Horne and Hamish Watson but, ultimately, they paid for occasional looseness and inaccuracies against a physical and streetwise Springboks side, losing 26-20.

Stand-off Finn Russell made a few wayward choices but coach Townsend defended his playmaker and expressed pride in the team’s performance.

“It was tough for those players close to the ruck, a narrow defence that flies up,” he said.

“If people like Huw Jones, Stuart Hogg and the wingers are getting the ball, a lot of that is to do with the 10. We definitely got things right, were able to score points. We just didn’t keep it going right to the end of the match.”

Townsend added: “We have to play to our strengths. And our strengths against South Africa were players like Huw Jones, Tommy Seymour, Sean Maitland, Stuart Hogg. If we play conservatively, they’re not going to get on the ball.”

Hogg had a superb game before going off with an ankle problem which Townsend said was precautionary and not linked to his recent injury.

Meanwhile, South Africa were waiting to hear last night if skipper Siya Kolisi, who appeared to butt Horne with the back of his head during a first-half ruck during the game, will be cited.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DUNCAN SMITH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831688.1542581289!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831688.1542581289!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend. Picture: SNS/SRU","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend. Picture: SNS/SRU","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831688.1542581289!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/scotland/david-bates-provides-platform-as-scots-run-riot-in-albania-1-4831661","id":"1.4831661","articleHeadline": "David Bates provides platform as Scots run riot in Albania","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542607200000 ,"articleLead": "

Amid the legitimate cheers about the effervescence that Scotland displayed going forward in their trouncing of Albania the other night, it was easy to overlook the huge encouragement offered by a presence at the other end of the pitch for Alex McLeish’s men.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831660.1542613685!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Bates earned praise from Scotland boss Alex McLeish: Picture: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

There was nothing flashy about David Bates’ debut in dark blue. That wasn’t what was required from the 22-year-old Hamburg defender, who was thrust into a reshaped back four for an awkward assignment when he wasn’t even included in the original squad for the decisive Nations League double-header. Bates’ remit was to keep it simple and, in tandem with central defensive partner Scott McKenna, provide the platform for Scotland’s phalanx of creative players to strut their stuff.

Indeed, it would surprise if 
watching a straight-up-and-down, ginger-haired centre-back revel in pulling on a Scotland shirt at senior 
level didn’t stir some fond memories for the 77-times capped McLeish.

Bates earned his move to Germany from Rangers on the back of proving an unruffled figure in the biggest of occasions – his marshalling of Moussa Dembele in the new year fixture last year made for the Ibrox club’s only clean sheet in the past 18 such fixtures. Since the summer, he has enjoyed a success assimilation to 2. Bundesliga and as well as watching those games, McLeish could assess him against £100 million-worth of English front players in the Scotland Under-21s’ 2-0 defeat by their border rivals.

“It was a huge night for David,” McLeish said of the Shkoder success that Bates was drafted in for owing to the injury loss of centre-backs such as Charlie Mulgrew and John Souttar. “I spoke to him before it and he was cool. I have watched a lot of his games at Hamburg and he has played very well. They like him over there and have given great reports about him.

“When David played against the England Under-21s I also liked what I saw on that occasion. We have lost a lot of players through injury and it came down to David getting his chance. Maybe there was a wee bit of adrenaline at times against Albania but he has come such a long way in a short time.

“It takes personality to come into a first cap like that. I was watching him in the warm-up to see if his timing was right, because the Albanians are quite a physical team and play up to the striker a lot. But I have got to say he had a really solid, sound debut. He worked well alongside Scott McKenna and they dovetailed together.”

The dovetailing was never more accomplished than between the Scotland midfielders. Undoubtedly the Celtic connection between three current members of that team – Callum McGregor, Ryan Christie and James Forrest – and former player and now Southampton fringe-man Stuart Armstrong underpinned the rhythm and fluency that Scotland could produce to carve Albania open.

There is an element of serendipity about McLeish’s squad building but he will surely see the merit of his 
4-1-4-1 system, and the players 
within it, for the must-win game tomorrow against Israel on which Scotland’s hope of topping the Nations League and producing a tangible sign of progress by claiming a Euro 2020 play-off berth will rest.

“We have had some twists in terms of players missing and not having full squads available in the past few games. Some things are outwith your control,” said McLeish. “But I know if we can get the right formula going forward we can produce that type of performance. McGregor has been in great form and is a really good footballer.

“We had a lot of really good footballers in that team in Albania. You wonder if the brawn can overtake the good football. But Stuart Armstrong’s legs were good. I know he has not played that much football and got a wee bit of cramp. Ryan Christie has taken it to another level with his performances for Celtic. Then both of the wide men, James Forrest and Ryan Fraser, showed brilliant form and got goals.”

McLeish is a likeable character who appears to have been assailed from all sides since the SFA induced collective groans by appointing him for a second spell in February subsequent to the failed pursuit of Michael O’Neill. None of that was the 59-year-old’s fault, and neither is it his fault that Scotland have appeared ill-fated in respect of injury call-offs – one of many factors to result in his tenure appearing so often framed in the negative, despite it now comprising two fine wins from only three competitive games. This notion that players are pulling out because they don’t care, or don’t care for the manager, has all become ludicrously overcooked.

“Are you starting to say that now, that they don’t want to play for me? Is that the inference?” he asked when asked about players’ commitment to the Scotland cause. “I don’t feel that. I don’t feel that. I think that’s doing a disservice to the medical staff if people think that, and to the clubs the players are coming from. The 
players that have pulled out of this double-header are with totally genuine injuries, there is no fabrication whatsoever.”

Asked if the suggestion something more untoward was going on with the haemorrhaging of players from the squad, McLeish said: “I can’t work it out so it’s best I don’t talk about something I can’t control. I can only control the results.” As long as his control over that aspect extends to finding the formula for a win against Israel, all the other froth will be flattened.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANDREW SMITH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831660.1542613685!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831660.1542613685!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Bates earned praise from Scotland boss Alex McLeish: Picture: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Bates earned praise from Scotland boss Alex McLeish: Picture: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831660.1542613685!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5800712439001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/scotland/scotland-s-ryan-christie-reflects-on-two-head-butts-in-a-week-1-4831694","id":"1.4831694","articleHeadline": "Scotland’s Ryan Christie reflects on ‘two head-butts in a week’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542581531000 ,"articleLead": "

Ryan Christie urged Scotland to carry the feel-good factor from Shkoder to the south side of Glasgow for tomorrow’s crucial Nations League game against Israel.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831693.1542613929!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Flanked by Stuart Armstrong and Steven Fletcher, Ryan Christie applauds the travelling fans in Shkoder. Picture: Adam Davy/PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Scotland boss Alex McLeish overcame nine withdrawals to put together an exciting and pacey side which won 4-0 in Albania on Saturday night to take them within 90 minutes of a play-off spot for Euro 2020.

His team moved on to six points along with Israel and any win at Hampden will secure top spot in Group C1.

Christie wants Scotland to continue from where they left off in Albania. The 23-year-old said: “We were looking to go out to Albania and get a 
solid victory, which we did – four goals and a clean sheet.

“So that will give us the confidence and momentum going into Tuesday night which we all know is a big game.

“It will be nice to be on home soil again and hopefully we can carry this result on to Tuesday night.”

The Celtic midfielder was at the heart of most of the major talking points in Albania. He set up wide man Ryan Fraser for his first goal in national team colours after 14 minutes before home skipper Mergim Mavraj was sent off six minutes later by referee Vladislav Bezborodov for a headbutt on the former Inverness and Aberdeen player.

Just before the break Christie won a free-kick at the edge of the box, from which Stuart Armstrong’s strike at goal was judged to have been handled, and striker Steven Fletcher converted the penalty.

Christie then played in James Forrest for him to score his first Scotland goal before his Celtic team-mate grabbed his double when he converted a Fraser cut-back in style.

He said: “It was a brilliant game to be part of, especially in the second half. The second goal just before half-time was crucial and going into the second half we were really comfortable and that showed.

“James got the goal to put us 3-0 up and we stamped our authority on the game. It is a great team to be part of.”

Livingston striker Dolly Menga was banned for two games after the West Lothian club chose not to appeal against his charge for putting his head towards Christie in a goalless Ladbrokes Premiership clash last Sunday, after it was initially missed by the 
officials.

However, Russian referee Bezborodov noted Mavraj’s transgression after he had first fouled Forrest and dismissed him down the tunnel.

“That’s two in a week,” said the Celtic player. “I wasn’t sure if it was the captain who made the initial challenge but I was trying to get the ball off him for the free-kick and he seemed to get really aggressive and put the head towards me. I am happy that the officials saw this one.”

It is an exciting time for Christie, who has only recently become a regular in the Celtic side and who signed a new three-year deal with the Scottish champions last week.

He explained: “It has been 
a bit of a whirlwind. I have found myself very lucky that they have put me into a team full of great players all around me.

“We are playing some great football with Celtic just now and coming away at international level, I really enjoyed playing in that team on Saturday night.

“Callum McGregor was sitting in behind me tonight as I am used to and when you have players like Ryan Fraser and James Forrest running off the ball, it makes my job easy.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "RONNIE ESPLIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831693.1542613929!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831693.1542613929!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Flanked by Stuart Armstrong and Steven Fletcher, Ryan Christie applauds the travelling fans in Shkoder. Picture: Adam Davy/PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Flanked by Stuart Armstrong and Steven Fletcher, Ryan Christie applauds the travelling fans in Shkoder. Picture: Adam Davy/PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831693.1542613929!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5800712439001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/rugby-union/compelling-display-from-scots-but-errors-leave-bad-taste-1-4831685","id":"1.4831685","articleHeadline": "Compelling display from Scots but errors leave bad taste","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542580575000 ,"articleLead": "

The previous weekend’s try fest against Fiji was a mere amuse bouche. This was a prime fillet steak of a Test match.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831684.1542580571!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hamish Watson heads for the tryline to score Scotland's second touchdown. Picture: SNS/SRU"} ,"articleBody": "

As the absorbing game unfolded at a mesmerised Murrayfield on Saturday evening, the mind couldn’t help but drift back 21 years ago to a meeting between these nations in which both head coaches, Gregor Townsend and Rassie Erasmus, played. Memories of dashing Boks full-back Percy
Montgomery running riot as the world champion tourists demolished the Scots 68-10 on their own patch.

In the traumatising aftermath of that shellacking, it was difficult to envision Scotland ever being anything more than roadkill to the southern hemisphere rugby superpowers.

In the decade or so following what remains Scotland’s all-time record margin of defeat, there have been grinding wins over Springbok sides that were significantly weaker than this resurgent outfit.

On Saturday, Scotland produced rugby as good as we’ve seen during the recent Vern Cotter/Townsend resurgence and arguably one of the best tries ever scored by the national team as Huw Jones’ breathtakingly brilliant back-of-the-hand passes to put Pete Horne for a simply magical score.

Townsend watched Tommy Seymour go past him up the tryscorers’ list with the wing’s hat-trick against Fiji and, seven days later, may well have seen his fabled “Toony flip” pass from Paris in 1995 surpassed as Scotland’s greatest creative assist.

The coach is likely to be more than happy with that and the fact that his side exhilarate sell-out home crowds with a brand of attacking play which makes the so-called “champagne rugby” of France we watched with awe and envy in the 1970s and 80s seem like Lambrusco.

And yet, Townsend’s flash of genius, which sent Gavin Hastings storming under the Parc des Princes
posts, contributed to a famous 
victory. Unfortunately, Jones could not say the same at the weekend.

As with the All Blacks game almost a year before to the day, the Scots couldn’t close out. There was slackness at times, soft tries conceded, kickable points turned down and frustrating inaccuracies as this 
marvellous match headed into a crescendo in which Scotland still had chances to snatch the victory.

Spirited defeats are no longer acceptable to Scotland supporters or the squad themselves and the news filtering through from Dublin as the post-match press conferences went on showed that taking that final step further is not unachievable.

“My general feeling is the effort put in by the players was outstanding,” said Townsend. “There are obviously parts of our game we need to improve.

“Some of it is relevant to this opposition, who we won’t face again very soon.

“Maybe in 12 months’ time we might face them [in World Cup knockout stage]. But we won’t play against a team with that line speed and that forward pack in the Six Nations. We have to make sure that what we’re learning in today’s game is relevant to beating Argentina.”

After Jesse Kriel had crashed over for an early score that won’t have pleased defence coach Matt Taylor, Scotland settled and then hit back with that glorious try finished off by Horne, which was confirmed after referee Romain Poite had taken a look at the first of Jones’s tremendous out of the back-door passes.

Scotland’s frustrating habit of making mistakes just after scoring continues and Boks stand-off Handre Pollard waltzed in as the visitors went on to move 17-7 up.

The boot of Greig Laidlaw, pictured left, and an inventive try from a lineout which saw Hamish Watson sweep around to stun the Boks forwards brought things level. That would probably have been a fair reflection of an enthralling half of quality Test rugby but indiscipline allowed Pollard to nudge his side three points to the good.

The second half was far less open as the huge South African forwards took more of a grip and the understandably tiring Scottish pack couldn’t quite match the ferocity and accuracy of the opposition.

With South Africa 23-20 up, the Scots kicked a penalty for the corner rather than the posts.

With hindsight, it was the wrong option, although Pollard missed a couple of shots himself, Elton Jantjies taking over to add the final points of the game for a victory which, for all the Scots’ brilliance at times and the niggling sense of frustration, was deserved.

Townsend, pictured right, now looks ahead to Argentina and admitted that there could be a fair few changes for the final Test of the year.

“Potentially. There will be some tired bodies,” said the coach. “For players who have played three games, they will be tired.

“November does give us an opportunity to test our depth. But Argentina are a really good side, so we need to pick a team able to give us a chance.

“For both those reasons, I don’t believe it will be the same next week.”

“There are moments we will look and ask if we made the right decision, if we were technically right.

“But the ones we will be thinking about all night are the ones that lead to points for the opposition.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DUNCAN SMITH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831684.1542580571!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831684.1542580571!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hamish Watson heads for the tryline to score Scotland's second touchdown. Picture: SNS/SRU","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hamish Watson heads for the tryline to score Scotland's second touchdown. Picture: SNS/SRU","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831684.1542580571!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/rugby-union/peter-horne-insists-scotland-wonder-try-never-in-doubt-1-4831678","id":"1.4831678","articleHeadline": "Peter Horne insists Scotland wonder try never in doubt","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542580200000 ,"articleLead": "

There was a collective wince around BT Murrayfield moments after the crowd had exploded in appreciation for one of the great tries ever seen at the stadium as referee Romain Poite went to the TMO.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831677.1542578446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's Peter Horne scores the home side's first try. Picture: SNS/SRU"} ,"articleBody": "

One man not too bothered by that was the player who had finished off the sublime move as Pete Horne joked that he was glad of the rest, and confident the 19th-minute try would stand after a check that the first of Huw Jones’s magnificent back-of-the-hand passes hadn’t gone forward.

“I was blowing. I quite enjoyed just getting an extra minute’s break,” said Horne. “No, Shuggie [Jones] said he thought it was fine. When we were walking back, we were chatting and he was like, ‘Nah, I think it’ll be fine’.

“It is probably the best team try of my career. It was exactly what we kind of talked about through the week – outworking them, form the width, and resetting,” continued the Glasgow centre. “We knew we could sting them out the back of our forward pod.

“It was nice to pick them off. That’s one of our trademarks – showing a bit of energy and just working hard to get on the end of things.”

Horne admitted there was frustration in the changing room that Scotland hadn’t quite managed to get the win against a hugely physical and well-drilled South Africa side.

“There was a couple of little decisions in our 22 that we maybe could have just exited. It looked like it was on but they did a great job in shutting us down,” said Horne.

“It’s like a classic big Test match – it’s going to come down to a couple of little things. We didn’t feel like we were far away, but maybe a couple of mauls as well. They did quite well at slowing us down. If we could have got the ball out of that maul and then backed our shape at the finish, you’d like to think we could have scored a couple of tries.”

The Springboks played the big moments better but, for all the talk in the lead up to the huge physical Test that was looming and an acceptance that it had been a bruising battle, Horne felt that the Scots showed up well in that department.

“I think we did. We didn’t really feel like we got outmuscled at any point,” he said.

“We had a huge emphasis on that going into the game, about our defence especially, our physicality and line speed. Bar a couple of little errors that they capitalised on, I thought it was pretty good.

“We were getting off the line and it felt pretty comfortable. We knew going in that we just had to batter up. They were going to come pretty direct.

“It was one of those games where sometimes you don’t miss many tackles, but where you’re quite passive they get a lot of metres. Although they kicked a lot of penalties, they’re one of the best teams in the world at keeping a hold of the ball and it never really felt like they were going to score, especially in that second half.”

Scotland never managed to get their noses in front at any stage but Horne said they always felt in the game and the hunt for victory.

“Oh, to be honest, it felt like a big game and it’s always going to be tight,” he said. “We made a decision to go to the corner [with a 63rd-minute penalty]. We felt like we needed to make a move and grab the Test match by the horns.

“Unfortunately we didn’t score off it but that was a good call. It showed what we’re about. We backed ourselves: we backed our maul, the forwards had just rumbled 30 metres up the pitch off a little impromptu maul. It’s rare against a big side like that you’re going to run away with it. It’s always going to be tight. As long as you’re in the game at 60 minutes you’ve got a chance.”

Horne said the squad were now desperate to get back out against Argentina on Saturday and get back to winning ways after having their home fortress breached for only the second time in two years.

“The changing room is pretty dark. We’re pretty devastated with that defeat, similarly against Wales.

“If we do have a defeat like that we learn from it and then we come back out firing the following week. It’s not often that we get beaten twice, especially at home.

“ There’s certainly a real hunger to make sure that we finish on a high.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DUNCAN SMITH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831677.1542578446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831677.1542578446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland's Peter Horne scores the home side's first try. Picture: SNS/SRU","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's Peter Horne scores the home side's first try. Picture: SNS/SRU","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831677.1542578446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/scotland/ryan-fraser-and-james-forrest-replicate-club-form-for-scotland-1-4831665","id":"1.4831665","articleHeadline": "Ryan Fraser and James Forrest replicate club form for Scotland","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542580200000 ,"articleLead": "

The tide might be turning for Alex McLeish. The mighty splash his team made with their 4-0 submerging of an abject Albania on Saturday night certainly engendered hope that Israel can be washed away at Hampden tomorrow night to allow the country to reach qualification dry land of the sort that seems to have eluded them for forever.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831664.1542577081!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "James Forrest scores Scotland's fourth goal. Picture: Adam Davy/PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Yet, in reflecting on the sparkling display that inspires belief that McLeish’s men can top their Nations League group by claiming the three points tomorrow that would send them through to the Euro 2020 play-offs – and potentially within two games of the finals, then – it is impossible not to consider that the ebb and flow of the international game can leave managers almost as King Canutes of football.

Going into the Nations League campaign, it wasn’t McLeish’s intention to field a back four, as he sought the dynamism of a central defensive trio and wing-backs. That precluded fielding two wingers, yet it was these wide men in James Forrest and Ryan Fraser that between them bagged three goals in Skhoder on Saturday night. Moreover, two months ago, fielding Ryan Christie as a No 10 and Callum McGregor as the midfield anchor wouldn’t have been in McLeish’s thinking.

Only a month ago, few were expecting Christie to be featuring in major occasions, far less proving a crucial influence in them as he was at the weekend and in Celtic’s recent European success over Leipzig. Equally, no-one had McGregor pegged as the new Scott Brown until the old Scott Brown succumbed to injury.

Curiously, for all the furore about call-offs, these might ultimately
have played into McLeish and Scotland’s favour. John McGinn has played well for his country. But with his injury withdrawal opening up the opportunity for Stuart Armstrong to step in, across the middle of the pitch there was that Celtic connection which undoubtedly helped forge understandings and drive the team forward. With Southampton’s Armstrong linking up with Christie, McGregor and Forrest, the high tempo, the probing, the passing triangles in the final third that Brendan Rodgers seeks from his team, were to be found in Scotland’s approach.

Of course, what also helped McLeish’s men the other night was the desultory nature of their hosts’ display – reflected in the crass indiscipline from captain Mergim Mavraj that led to his 22nd-minute red card for sticking the head on Christie – and an unjustified penalty award. That decision allowed Steven Fletcher, a natural foil for the Rodgersesque Scotland midfield, to score a first international goal in two years.

Israel won’t roll over as did Albania – the only team in Skhoder the other night that played as if they had no great regard for the promptings of their manager; the surely soon-to-be-deposed Christian Panucci.

What provided the real contrast was McLeish, for all the injury issues, was able to select an XI that could step on to the pitch feeling good about themselves courtesy of their club form. Fraser is in the form of his life at Bournemouth, as reflected in the imperious finish he produced early on. Likewise, with Forrest, whose second goal, and Scotland’s fourth really was a thing of beauty and demonstrated that the 
Celtic winger is in terrific touch.

Giving in-form players the roles that best allow them to translate their club form on to the international stage isn’t a hard and fast recipe for success. Nothing is, but it must be considered not a bad starting point. If injury 
permits – and given McLeish and 
Scotland’s recent luck that must be unlikely – the same players that excelled in Shkoder must be allowed to go again at Hampden tomorrow against Israel. A similar outcome just might be forthcoming.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANDREW SMITH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831664.1542577081!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831664.1542577081!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "James Forrest scores Scotland's fourth goal. Picture: Adam Davy/PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "James Forrest scores Scotland's fourth goal. Picture: Adam Davy/PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831664.1542577081!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/rugby-union/scotland/scotland-will-front-up-to-south-africa-in-any-world-cup-rematch-1-4831673","id":"1.4831673","articleHeadline": "Scotland will ‘front up’ to South Africa in any World Cup rematch","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542578186000 ,"articleLead": "

Ben Toolis has warned South Africa they can expect another bruising battle in 12 months’ time if they set up a World Cup rematch with Scotland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831672.1542578182!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's Ben Toolis makes a break against South Africa. Picture: SNS/SRU"} ,"articleBody": "

The Springboks were made to scrap all the way for victory at Murrayfield on Saturday as Gregor Townsend’s men proved again that they are closing the gap on the world’s best teams.

Scotland exchanged early tries with Rassie Erasmus’ men during a thrilling first half in Edinburgh but let the Boks off the hook after the break when they failed to make the most of their openings to ultimately lose 26-20.

But Edinburgh lock Toolis is taking heart from his side’s display as he looks ahead to Japan 2019. Scotland could square off against South Africa in the quarter-finals if both teams make it out of their pools and Toolis believes his team have already laid down a big marker ahead of that potential clash.

He said: “They only beat us by six points and they’ll be thinking that we’re a tough team to play against. If we do play them at the World Cup, they’ll know it won’t be an easy game.

“We’ll be there to front up and won’t take a step back. It’s always going to be in the back of your mind the last time you played a team, especially 12 months out from a World Cup. But we’ll take a lot of positives from this game and see what we need to fix. That’s how you get better.”

Skipper Greig Laidlaw insists the result is yet 
another sign Scotland are closing in on their rivals and Toolis agreed. “We’re never happy to lose,” he said. “To lose by only six points, and I think they’re easily a top-three team in the world, means there are a lot of positives and we’ll take that.”

Of the errors that need to be corrected ahead of next weekend’s clash with Argentina, the soft underbelly that allowed South Africa to strike – particularly for the Boks’ second try when Handre Pollard danced through after the Scots coughed up turnover ball inside their own 22 – will be the most pressing for Townsend.

But Toolis says only small repairs are needed to an exciting game plan that has produced results more often than not. “There are minor fixes,” he said. “We can compete with the best in the world. We’ve won nine out of the last 11 games at Murrayfield and pushed some teams close away from home.

“We’re improving each year. We’re scoring a lot more tries than previously. We build this team from defence and we’ve come on leaps and bounds with that. Tonight we did leave some points out there. There were also some minor details and decision-making that we need to fix but defence is the key asset.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANDY NEWPORT"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831672.1542578182!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831672.1542578182!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland's Ben Toolis makes a break against South Africa. Picture: SNS/SRU","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's Ben Toolis makes a break against South Africa. Picture: SNS/SRU","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831672.1542578182!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/francesco-molinari-wins-race-to-dubai-to-cap-stunning-season-1-4831655","id":"1.4831655","articleHeadline": "Francesco Molinari wins Race to Dubai to cap stunning season","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542576329000 ,"articleLead": "

Italy’s Francesco Molinari was almost lost for words after capping an incredible season by winning the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831654.1542576324!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Italy's Francesco Molinari poses with the Race to Dubai trophy. Picture: AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili"} ,"articleBody": "

Molinari became the first Italian player to win a major when he claimed the Open Championship at Carnoustie, which followed victory in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and a maiden PGA Tour title in the Quicken Loans National.

The 36-year-old then became the first European player to compile a perfect 5-0 record in the Ryder Cup victory at Le Golf National, having already teamed up with Tommy Fleetwood to make history as the first European pair to win all four of their matches together.

And Molinari’s status as European No 1 was officially confirmed at the DP World Tour Championship as soon as Fleetwood was unable to claim the victory he required to overhaul his good friend.

“Incredible, incredible,” said Molinari, who embraced Fleetwood on the clubhouse steps once the result was confirmed.

“You know, now I’m going to have time to sit down and relax and really think back about the last few months.

“I’m really struggling for words. It’s more than I ever dreamed of achieving.

“I’ve seen guys that I think are better players than me not winning majors and not winning Order of Merits or Race to Dubai.

“To achieve those things, you know, in one single season, is just incredible.”

Molinari is set to be the first golfer to be awarded the Collare d’oro al merito sportivo, the highest honour conferred by the Italian National Olympic Committee, after which he will face the task of planning how to improve next season.

“I don’t know who is more tired between Tommy and I,” he added. “We both looked exhausted on the course. It is a long season and we play a lot of tournaments.

“The Ryder Cup was an amazing week, but it does take a big toll and now it’s time to relax and recover and try to get stronger for next year. To be honest, I don’t know how to face next season yet. It’s going to be nearly impossible to repeat or to beat that, but after a break I need to start working hard and get ready for another good season.

“It’s a new challenge. We’ve been doing very well this year when it comes to the 
challenges. I had never won a Ryder Cup match and I won five out of five.

“Carnoustie was really not my favourite place, to say the least, before this year, and to go there and win it’s incredible and it’s probably impossible to process all of that.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "PHIL CASEY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831654.1542576324!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831654.1542576324!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Italy's Francesco Molinari poses with the Race to Dubai trophy. Picture: AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Italy's Francesco Molinari poses with the Race to Dubai trophy. Picture: AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831654.1542576324!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/masters-memory-drives-danny-willett-to-emotional-dubai-win-1-4831651","id":"1.4831651","articleHeadline": "Masters memory drives Danny Willett to emotional Dubai win","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542576146000 ,"articleLead": "

Danny Willett drew on the memories of his memorable 2016 Masters triumph to secure an emotional victory in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831650.1542576142!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Danny Willett celebrates with his young son after his victory in the World Tour Championship in Dubai. Picture: AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili"} ,"articleBody": "

It had been 953 long days since Willett won the Masters and – as he had not tasted victory since winning that first major title at Augusta National in April 2016 – he had slumped from a career-high of ninth to outside the world’s top 450 earlier this season.

But after overcoming numerous injuries and a subsequent loss of form, the 31-year-old from Sheffield carded a final round of 68 at Jumeirah Golf Estates to finish 18 under par, two shots ahead of fellow Englishman Matt Wallace and current Masters champion Patrick Reed.

“Regardless of what would have happened, I’m in a much better place than where I was,” said Willett, who will climb from 276th in the world to back inside the top 100.

“I knew that things were going the right way and I was doing all the work possible to give myself chances to do this.

“Winning’s a rarity on Tour, really. I’m pleased to have won the tournaments that I’ve won over the last few years. I’ve won some pretty big ones and obviously Augusta is always going to be special.

“But this, coming back after everything that’s happened is going to go down in the history books for myself as one of the most pleasing.”

Willett credits coach Sean Foley – who formerly coached Tiger Woods – and fitness trainer Kev Duffy for his resurgence, first teaming up with Foley at last year’s US PGA Championship when he admitted he was “pretty low and open to trying anything” to save his career.

“The back end of 2016 we were in prime position to win the Race to Dubai and picked up a couple of bad injuries. The golf game wasn’t in a good place and I didn’t really want to play golf,” Willett added. “I wasn’t in a position where I was enjoying what I was doing and I was in pain.

“Since working with Sean I knew pretty quick that things were going to be good body-wise. The moves felt horrendous and the ball flight was horrendous, but I wasn’t in pain. We set out to be pain-free and we’d then put the golf right after that.” Willett did so to such an extent that he qualified for the season-ending event in Dubai and, having started the final round in a share of the lead with Reed, he surged three clear with an eagle on the par-five second and a birdie on the seventh. That lead was wiped out after bogeys on the tenth and 12th, but Willett responded brilliantly to birdie the 14th, 15th and 17th before a heart-stopping moment on the last, where his drive finished inches short of the creek which runs the length of the hole.

“I always say if you are going to win golf tournaments you need to have a few breaks go your way,” Willett added.

“We could still have dropped it back and made six, but that gave us the cushion to really enjoy it. But I’m most proud of how I handled myself emotionally and finished out those last five, six holes having not been in that position for a long time. You draw on a lot of things. You think of shots I hit around Augusta, how your hands were shaking, how your nerves were, holing a few of them little slippery six-footers, and we had a few of them today.”

Reed’s share of second lifted him above Tommy Fleetwood into second place on the Race to Dubai, which was won by Open champion Francesco Molinari. India’s Shubhankar Sharma finished 28th on the money list and was named rookie of the year.

Russell Knox, the sole Scot in the 60-man field, was joint 34th on three under par following a final-round 71.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "PHIL CASEY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831650.1542576142!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831650.1542576142!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Danny Willett celebrates with his young son after his victory in the World Tour Championship in Dubai. Picture: AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Danny Willett celebrates with his young son after his victory in the World Tour Championship in Dubai. Picture: AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831650.1542576142!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/hearts/hearts-take-french-winger-killian-colombie-on-trial-1-4831617","id":"1.4831617","articleHeadline": "Hearts take French winger Killian Colombie on trial","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542565694000 ,"articleLead": "

French winger Killian Colombie is set to join Hearts on trial this winter after impressing in the American college leagues.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831616.1542575520!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Killian Colombie is set to join Hearts on trial this winter"} ,"articleBody": "

The Iona College Gaels player plans to train with the Edinburgh club’s reserves as he seeks a route into professional football.

Colombie, 23, was born in Paris and played with Paris Saint-Germain as a youth before moving to study in the United States in 2015. He is able to play wide right or wide left and can also operate at right-back if necessary.

He claimed ten goals and five assists in 13 games earlier this year playing with Houston-based AHFC Royals in the Player Development League. That led to a trial at Houston Dynamo before he returned to Iona.

New York Red Bulls and San Jose Earthquakes have invited Colombie to train with them during the winter after he won the First-Team All-MAAC award with Iona in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. He is also named in this year’s Top College Prospects list.

Colombie is eager to secure a move to Europe or a Major League Soccer club and plans to spend time in Edinburgh with Hearts over the next few weeks.

“When I came here (Iona) in 2015, I said to myself: ‘I’m going to get to the MLS somehow’,” said Colombie. “I don’t know how yet but I’ll be there eventually. I just had a plan and I stuck to it, and now everything seems to fall into place.

“To go to the MLS draft is prestigious and it gives you much exposure. It seems best to go the MLS path first. In the future, I would love to play in Europe of course. But if the door is open now and I have the chance to play in a competitive European League, obviously I will go for it.”

James Hamilton, head coach of the Iona College Gaels, told the Ionian News: “You look at Killian and you see a professional athlete. Technically, he’s got all the tools and he’s greatly improved the mental side of his game. For me, ability aside, he’s absolutely driven to what he wants to achieve and you better get out of the way when he’s coming.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831616.1542575520!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831616.1542575520!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Killian Colombie is set to join Hearts on trial this winter","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Killian Colombie is set to join Hearts on trial this winter","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831616.1542575520!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5795246155001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/scottish-athletics-exploring-possibility-of-break-from-gb-in-european-events-1-4831615","id":"1.4831615","articleHeadline": "Scottish athletics exploring possibility of break from GB in European events","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542565308000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish Athletics is exploring the possibility of breaking away from Great Britain to compete independently in European events.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831614.1542565304!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Laura Muir celebrates wining gold in the 1,500m at the European Championships in August. Picture: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

European Athletics has been contacted to ask whether it would be possible for the Scots - and therefore also England, Wales and Northern Ireland - to compete under their own flag.

The possible split for European competitions would not affect the current Great Britain set-up for the world championships and Olympics.

“We recently launched our new strategy document entitled ‘Building a Culture of Success’. Enshrined within that document is a principle to try and create more opportunities for Scottish athletes to compete as Scotland at European level,” said Scottish Athletics chief executive Mark Munro.

“Our chair, Ian Beattie, and I attended the European Athletics Convention in Lausanne recently and in writing to thank them, we asked if the possibility could be explored for Scotland - and the other Home nations England, Wales and Northern Ireland - to compete at the likes of the Euro Cross Country Champs (every year) and the European Champs (indoors and outdoors, every two years).

“This has been a topic of discussion by home nations and UK Athletics for the past 18 months or so.

“We do not envisage any change to the GB team for world championships and Olympics events in their two-year and four-year cycles.

“The landscape in sport is always changing and there are other models in British sport of Scotland competing at European level and then contributing athletes/players to GB teams for Olympics - so we will look at how that framework applies, too.”

Read more: Beth Dobbin, Jemma Reekie, Josh Kerr in world class performance squad

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Carl Markham"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831614.1542565304!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831614.1542565304!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Laura Muir celebrates wining gold in the 1,500m at the European Championships in August. Picture: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Laura Muir celebrates wining gold in the 1,500m at the European Championships in August. Picture: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831614.1542565304!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/scotland/scottish-football-s-10-greatest-rebels-1-4831513","id":"1.4831513","articleHeadline": "Scottish football’s 10 greatest rebels","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542539295000 ,"articleLead": "

1 Bobby Flavell

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831512.1542528788!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Duncan Ferguson, nicknamed Duncan Disorderly, with his shirt ripped during an Everton-Spurs match in 1997. Picture: Gary M Prior/Allsport/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Not many players – make that no one else – have scored goals for Dundee in two winning cup finals. Dundee became the first side to win back-to-back League Cups in 1951 and 1952, Flavell scoring in both.

But while this marks him out as special, it doesn’t necessarily endorse his candidacy as a rebel. Flavell scored over a goal a game for first club Airdrie, which helped convince Hearts to pay £10,000 for his services.

He never really settled at Tynecastle. But it’s where he landed next that casts him as someone prepared to be a bit different: Colombia, where a breakaway professional league, unrecognised by FIFA, was established in 1949.

While Flavell served a brief ban on his return to Britain, he did not suffer for his decision to join Millianoros. He had no regrets. “I earned fabulous money and my wife Pearl and I had a beautiful flat in Bogota,” he once recalled. “As an added bonus I also got to play every week with Alfredo di Stefano.”

2 Duncan Ferguson

His nickname is even derived from an actual criminal offence: Duncan Disorderly. He was the first footballer to be jailed for an on-field misdemeanour, spending 44 days in Glasgow’s Barlinnie after being convicted for assault while at Rangers following a headbutt on Raith Rovers’ Jock McStay.

And yet his real rebel credentials were amassed when he became an international refusenik. Nowadays it is more common for players to ask not to be considered for Scotland. But Ferguson’s principled stance created headlines. It was not without its contradictions, however. Ferguson made it known he could not play for an association that had sought to ensure he served a 12-game ban after serving his jail sentence. But he did turn out for Scotland following his release, only stepping away following his seventh cap against Estonia in 1997.

3 Rose Reilly

Unlike Duncan Ferguson, the termination of Reilly’s Scotland career was not at her own request. She was banned from playing after pursuing a professional career elsewhere. “It was their loss,” she told Nutmeg magazine last year. “I’d moved on.”

She certainly had. She signed for AC Milan after a spell at Stade de Rheims in France and won eight Italian league titles while regularly playing in front of crowds of 20,000. She became an adopted Italian and starred – and scored – for Italy when they lifted the women’s World Cup in Chile in 1983.

She’d come a long way from playing with boys’ teams in Ayrshire, when she first displayed the determination that ensured the small-minded attitudes she encountered then in Scotland would not hamper her dreams. Reilly was eventually inducted into both the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame and the Scottish Football Hall of Fame.

4Vic Kasule

A footballer drinking alcohol to excess is not sufficient for rebel status, even in these more health conscious times. Back when Vic Kasule played it was more common of course. But he took over-indulgence to new levels and created potentially dangerous situations for himself, and others – including when he took Shrewsbury Town team-mate and fellow Scot John McGinlay’s car without his consent and overturned it.

His normal carry-out was, he claimed, 24 cans of Red Stripe and a bottle of brandy. Nevertheless, Kasule was bestowed with the nickname “Vodka Vic”. He was already creating a stir as one of very few black players to have made the breakthrough in senior Scottish football after he signed for Albion Rovers in 1982. He then became Meadowbank Thistle’s record signing. But football tended to be a sideline to full-time carousing.

“It was a nice family club and we did our best to ruin it,” he said of his time at Shrewsbury Town with fellow Scottish hell-raisers Alan Irvine and Stevie Pittman. Irvine later queried this depiction. More because of the association with Kasule rather than the suggestion he was a drunkard.

5 Mo Johnston

There have been few more insurrectionary single acts in Scottish football than agreeing to come back to sign for Celtic before joining rivals Rangers instead.

Mo Jo will forever deserve a place in any such list after managing to upset Celtic and Rangers fans alike in 1989. Celtic supporters sought to erase him from the memory to the extent that a banner celebrating the 30th anniversary of Celtic’s 1986 league title named only ten Celtic players plus Albert Kidd, who scored twice for Dundee v Hearts that afternoon to deliver the title to the east end of Glasgow.

Johnston blessed himself after being sent off for Celtic in the 1986-87 League Cup final against Rangers. So if the Ibrox club were really going to make their first high profile Roman Catholic signing, something Graeme Souness planned from the moment he became Ibrox manager in 1986, Johnston was the last one many would have chosen, hence tales emerging of season tickets being flung into fires. Johnston bravely managed to win over the majority, scoring 31 goals in 76 appearances – including a last-minute winner in an Old Firm derby.

6 Willie Johnston

The ultimate bad boy of Scottish football. Records show he was red-carded 20 times, though he – almost proudly – claims it was 22.

His own autobiography’s title Sent Off At Gunpoint recalls one such early bath, v Argentina in Buenos Aires in 1977 where he was warned, amid the strong-arm tactics of the military junta, not to return the following summer. He did, with fateful consequences. Even without the controversy for which he is most well-known, being sent home from the World Cup in 1978 for taking a banned drug to help soothe his hayfever, his football career seemed designed to give the authorities a headache. He was once banned for ten weeks by the SFA after a punch-up with Partick Thistle’s Alex Forsyth while he also stamped on the throat of John McMaster while playing for Rangers against Aberdeen. He still refuses to have anything to do with the SFA, who he finds it hard to forgive for their heavy-handed response to his drug test failure. This included packing him on to a plane home to face the music alone.

7 Jim Baxter

Described by biographer Ken Gallacher as a “lifelong rebel and a constant thorn in the side of the Scottish football establishment”, Baxter would take grave offence were he not listed among this awkward squad of characters.

He was an individualist from the word go, striking out for better pay at Rangers while turning a deaf ear to the request from rather more disciplined team-mate Harry Davis to be a team player. By this Davis meant cutting out nights out before a game. Baxter never did anything by half. He gave up the chance to really hurt England in 1967 when Scotland strolled to victory against the world champions, preferring to toy with them by doing keepie-ups on the Wembley pitch. Over-indulgence claimed Baxter in the end. He died aged 61 in 2001 after two liver transplants.

8 Chic Charnley

A latter day Willie Johnston, the number of his red cards, 17, equals the number of his clubs.

He enjoyed four spells at Partick Thistle, a couple at St Mirren. He seemed to be forever on the move, attracting trouble wherever he went. One of those red cards was for tangling with his own teammate Robbie Raeside while at Dundee.

Raeside is now a policeman, Charnley, meanwhile, drives a taxi in Glasgow, and can recount such tales as the time he was summoned to guest for boyhood favourites Celtic in Mark Hughes’ testimonial against Manchester United in 1994. He was in the pub when he heard the news and travelled down with friends on the day of the game, changing into a suit in the car. He was named man of the match.

9 Jackie McNamara Snr

Billy McNeill called him a “wee commie bastard”, Kenny Dalglish dubbed him “Trotsky”. “While the rest of them were playing cards, I’d be reading The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists,” Jackie McNamara Senior once recalled of his Celtic days, when he picked up the nickname Red Jackie.

It had emerged that he sold Soviet Weekly when he was a kid, not that he tried to hide political convictions inherited from his father, who had been one of the Clyde’s youngest shipyard shop stewards.

After a Drybrough Cup win over Rangers, Jimmy Johnstone told McNamara it was a grand a man for the bonus. But because he was younger, McNamara only got £250.

“Wages were wages but I reckoned bonuses should be the same for everyone. Unfortunately Billy and Jock [Stein] didn’t see it that way!” His concern for the welfare of his fellow man did not always stretch to referees – he once threw his jersey at one after being sent off for Hibs, where he later became a teammate of George Best.

10 Craig Levein

Who gets sent off in a friendly for punching a teammate? Well, Craig Levein does. It’s perhaps difficult to cast Levein in the role of anti-authority figure when seeing the bespectacled figure in his dad jersey and puffer jacket on the sidelines with Hearts. But Levein has never kowtowed to anyone.

This includes Graeme Hogg, who once mightily pissed him off while they were playing for Hearts in a friendly against Raith Rovers in August 1994. A dazed Hogg was stretchered off with a broken nose.

More recently, Levein’s post-match outburst in 2008 against referee Mike McCurry while manager of Dundee United following a defeat at Rangers remains a masterpiece of its kind: “We were as well not turning up today – we could not have won today. Let’s not bother about Dundee United, eh? It’s all about Rangers.”

He’s recently honed his act back at Hearts where he’s perfected the art of what’s become known as sh*thousery.


Who is Scottish football’s greatest rebel? is a Book Week Scotland 2018 event on Monday night in association with Nutmeg magazine at the Storytelling Centre on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, kick-off 7.30pm.

A panel including former Scotland international Pat Nevin, Scotsman sportswriter Alan Pattullo, author Chris McQueer, and former Scotland on Sunday sports editor Ginny Clark will pitch their choice for Scottish football’s ultimate football rebel title. Tickets can be bought online at the Scottish Story Telling Centre.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ALAN PATTULLO"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831512.1542528788!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831512.1542528788!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Duncan Ferguson, nicknamed Duncan Disorderly, with his shirt ripped during an Everton-Spurs match in 1997. Picture: Gary M Prior/Allsport/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Duncan Ferguson, nicknamed Duncan Disorderly, with his shirt ripped during an Everton-Spurs match in 1997. Picture: Gary M Prior/Allsport/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831512.1542528788!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5790964474001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/competitions/premiership/rumour-mill-international-winger-linked-with-rangers-can-talk-to-clubs-in-january-scott-mckenna-receives-blunt-advice-from-legend-mcleish-s-new-beginning-1-4831539","id":"1.4831539","articleHeadline": "Rumour Mill: International winger linked with Rangers ‘can talk to clubs in January’ | Scott McKenna receives blunt advice from legend | McLeish’s ‘new beginning’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542535288000 ,"articleLead": "

All the latest news and gossip from Scottish football.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4808221.1542535283!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex McLeish has urged his strikers to continue proving themselves at club level. Picture: Steve Welsh."} ,"articleBody": "

International winger linked with Aston Villa and Rangers ‘can talk to clubs in January’


According to the Daily Mail, Aston Villa and Rangers are two of many sides interested in Jordan Jones with Swansea city currently front runners. The Northern Irish winger has been ever-present for Kilmarnock this season and ‘can talk to clubs in January’ about a mid-season move away from Rugby Park due to his contract expiring next summer. (Daily Mail)

Scott McKenna got some blunt advice from Aberdeen great Willie Miller

In a career trajectory that has shot skywards at a meteoric rate, Scott McKenna remains grateful to those who have tried to keep his feet on the ground. McKenna can still remember the pointers drummed into him by legendary centre half Willie during his time as a youth player at Pittodrie under Miller’s command. (The Scotsman)

Dape Mebude gives Steven Gerrard something to think about

Dapo Mebude scored once and assisted another two in a comfortable 5-0 win for the Scotland under-19s yesterday. The 17-year-old’s run of good form for Rangers reserves is likely to have put him into contention for a first team shot at Ibrox, reports The Boot Room. The Gers youngster was recently taken to Spartak Moscow as part of the squad for a Europa League clash. (The Boot Room)

Win over Albania feels like a new beginning for Alex McLeish

Alex McLeish declared that he felt a sense of new beginning following the scintillating 4-0 win in Albania last night that moves Scotland to within a win of clinching their Nations League group and earning a Euro 2020 play-off place. (The Scotsman)

Kilmarnock and Rangers legend Kris Boyd insists he isn’t thinking of retiring after testimonial

Kris Boyd admits he was humbled to be described as the finest goalscorer of his generation by the greatest Rangers goalscorer of all time, Ally McCoist, but insisted he wasn’t ready to hand up his boots just yet. (Daily Record)

Hibs players star for Australia as Martin Boyle makes debut

Hibs winger Martin Boyle made his Australia debut while Jamie Maclaren and Mark Milligan also featured as the Socceroos drew 1-1 with South Korea in Brisbane. (The Scotsman)

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4808221.1542535283!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4808221.1542535283!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alex McLeish has urged his strikers to continue proving themselves at club level. Picture: Steve Welsh.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex McLeish has urged his strikers to continue proving themselves at club level. Picture: Steve Welsh.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4808221.1542535283!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5800712439001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/competitions/premiership/the-10-best-scottish-premiership-signings-of-the-season-so-far-1-4831237","id":"1.4831237","articleHeadline": "The 10 best Scottish Premiership signings of the season so far","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542528000000 ,"articleLead": "

As it’s an international week, here at Scotsman Towers we drew up a list of features to distract you all (and ourselves) during the fortnight without club football.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831235.1542394220!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Peter Haring in action for Hearts. Picture: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

READ MORE - The most interesting expiring contracts in the Scottish Premiership

Looking for inspiration on Friday morning, I volunteered to take on the challenge of writing this article, which had originally been claimed by a colleague.

What a stupid decision that was.

It doesn’t matter how many times I find myself in this trap, a list article ranking players always looks like fun. That’s because, in a setting with mates down the pub or in the group chat, it is fun. You can say your piece, argue over the little things, but once it’s all done it’s immediately forgotten. It is not indelibly cast into the world for fans to ridicule in the present and future.

With that pressure, every decision takes on added significance. Arranging the players in what you believe to be the correct order is bad enough, but the worst part is leaving others on the cutting room floor. ‘Surely there’s a space for Player A in this list?’ you chide yourself. But who drops out? There’s nobody. They all deserve their place! Aaaaaaaaarrgh.

The original draft of this top ten looked very different at the back end. In order to try and make things easier, those with a smaller sample size were discounted. Leaving out Celtic defender Filip Benkovic, Hibs’ midfielder Mark Milligan and Uche Ikpeazu of Hearts quelled some of the indecision - until it was discovered that they’d all played more games than Kilmarnock attacker Greg Stewart.

Ikpeazu and Milligan were left out regardless. Fitness is a skill and Ikpeazu won’t be back until February at least, while Milligan may have sneaked in had he played all of his nine games in the middle of the park, where he looks very good, rather than at centre-back, where he’s passable cover.

Another Hibs player who was included in the top ten originally but eventually cut was Stevie Mallan. On the surface, the midfielder should be a certainty based on his seven goals in 15 appearances in all competitions. But there’s a criticism among Hibs fans that he doesn’t do enough to influence the game when he’s not shooting for goal. Perhaps they’re being too harsh and this is symptomatic of expectations being too high after the loss of John McGinn and Dylan McGeouch and Scott Allan’s return to parent club Celtic, but those dissenting voices were hard to ignore when there are players getting universal praise who may have missed out instead.

Another to find himself harshly cut was Connor Goldson. The defender’s form hasn’t quite been consistent enough over the piece. After enjoying a tremendous start he’s fallen back down to earth somewhat in recent weeks, possibly hindered by his defensive partner often switching between Nikola Katic and Joe Worrall.

If this list was extended to 11, making it even more arbitrary than it already is, then Jimmy Dunne would have been included. The Republic of Ireland international has been superb and held together the Hearts defence in the absence of Christophe Berra and John Souttar, both lost to long-term injury. However, in a toss up between him and some of the players who did make it, the fact that he’s only on loan until January did count against him. You can’t be that brilliant a signing if you only play half a season. If the loan deal is extended, he’d immediately jump into the top five based on current form.

10. Ryan Kent (Rangers)

The most dangerous Rangers attacker not called Alfredo Morelos this season. He’s the player more than anyone else in the Ibrox side who can pick up the ball and run at defenders. It’s a traditional skill for a winger to have but one we’re saying less and less in the sport nowadays, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Unsettling the full-back can have a hugely negative impact on opposing teams, as it creates a chink in the defensive armour and often removes an additional attacker if the flanking defender is too hesitate to commit further up the park. He may have appeared higher had he signed on a permanent deal, but as it stands he’s only on loan from Liverpool.

READ MORE - Scottish Premiership stars Rangers could look to sign in January

9. Greg Stewart (Kilmarnock)

Despite playing in only eight games - he signed late in August and Killie were already out of the League Cup - Stewart makes the list for the influential contribution he’s made so far. Nobody remembers now, but Killie had a relatively slow start to the campaign and didn’t quite look capable of matching their feats of last season. Stewart was the missing piece. Operating in the No.10 role and looking back to his Dundee best, his creativity and goalscoring has given the attack a much-needed punch. Again, he’s only a loanee, but his deal with Birmingham City runs out at the end of this season. Having spent two successive campaigns in Scotland, it’s expected he’d return home, and if he enjoys a happy campaign in Ayrshire then Steve Clarke’s side could consider themselves favourites for his signature.

8. Filip Benkovic (Celtic)

How did we perceive the Celtic defence pre-Benkovic and what do we think of it now? That’s why he’s made the top ten. In each and every one of his nine matches so far the Parkhead crowd has been thoroughly impressed by his poise and physical advantages: he looks as assured as they come and seems capable of jumping over the stand.

7. Liam Kelly (Livingston)

The 22-year-old has been in such excellent form this season that just this very week people on Scottish football Twitter were losing their absolute s*** that he wasn’t given a Scotland squad call-up ahead of Celtic reserve goalkeeper Scott Bain. While it’s probably a little too early to be getting bent out of shape about that, his promise for someone so young gives hope that we might not be collectively gubbed as a nation when Allan McGregor and Craig Gordon retire.

6. Odsonne Edouard (Celtic)

Yes, ok, he cost £9 million. For that amount of money, you’d want to see a footballer being the undisputed best player in the land, scoring hat-tricks before the half and getting the pipe and slippers out after the interval. However, the cost should only be a major concern if there’s little chance of Celtic making back their investment. He could be doing more on a consistent basis in Scottish football to justify that fee (though, remember, he’s still joint-top goalscorer), but you cannot argue with five goals from nine appearances so far on the continent, including the winner in the recent 2-1 win over RB Leipzig.

READ MORE - What Southampton fans think of former Celtic star Stuart Armstrong

5. Drey Wright (St Johnstone)

Saints have been a surprise package in the Premiership so far this season. Expected by most to languish in the bottom six, they’re currently fifth in the table having won five games on the spin. Through a highly enjoyable opening few months for the McDiarmid Park faithful, Wright has been their standout. The 23-year-old, signed from Colchester United, is a direct and quick winger who gets opposing defences on the back foot. Along with Matthew Kennedy and Tony Watt, who’ve also been great this far, they’ve created a new identity for Tommy Wright’s team. Step aside stuffy, hard-to-beat Saints, and welcome sexy St Johnstone.

4. Steven Naismith (Hearts)

It’s sometimes difficult to judge a player’s true value to a team, and other times it’s really easy. Naismith falls into the latter category as Hearts’ form, particularly in front of goal, has dropped off a cliff since he limped out of the Betfred Cup semi-final defeat to Celtic. The Scotland international doesn’t just bring qualities as an attacker, he’s also a talismanic and veteran presence in the side. Constantly talking his team-mates through the game and leading by example by constantly putting his body on the line, Naismith makes this Hearts side tick. His return from injury really can’t come soon enough.

3. Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen)

He may seem a little high considering some of the others we’ve already mentioned have played better than him over the course of the season, but as a signing this is the total package. He’s 19 years old, cost a modest six-figure fee, is already one of the best players on the team, has scored an iconic goal which will live in the memory for generations to come, and is on a long-term contract. Derek McInnes didn’t get an awful lot right with his recruitment this past summer, but he knocked it clean out of the park with this one.

READ MORE - 6 underwhelming summer signings who could still come good

2. Peter Haring (Hearts)

Great signings are always more fun when they come completely out of nowhere. It highlights just how unpredictable the sport of football can be that an Austrian second tier centre-back can become the best midfielder in Scottish football through the opening three months of the season. Haring, simply put, is a force of nature. His ability to win back possession by gobbling up loose balls is incredibly valuable to the way Hearts play, while he can also impact the game further forward with his dominating aerial ability, as evidenced by the five goals he’s scored so far.

1. Allan McGregor (Rangers)

The signing of McGregor seemed a little unnecessary at the time. Rangers already had a decent enough keeper at the Scottish Premiership level in Wes Foderingham, while Jak Alnwick was no slouch as a back-up. With both of those stoppers contracted through this season, and unable to shift either of them, what was the point in signing the 36-year-old McGregor. It just goes to show that sometimes clubs shouldn’t overthink these things. If a better player is available and willing to come, then you sign them. There’s no telling how many points, both in the Premiership and Europe, McGregor has saved Rangers this season. He’s pulled off stunning stop after stunning stop. And even when they do succumb to defeat he’s usually their best player, such as the 4-3 defeat to Spartak Moscow in the Europa League. Without him between the sticks last night, it’s not to difficult to imagine the visitors conceding twice as many goals as they did.

READ MORE - 8 Scottish Premiership summer signings whose future looks bleak

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831235.1542394220!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831235.1542394220!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Peter Haring in action for Hearts. Picture: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Peter Haring in action for Hearts. Picture: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831235.1542394220!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5793294221001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/rugby-union/scotland/scotland-20-26-south-africa-gargantuan-effort-not-quite-enough-1-4831483","id":"1.4831483","articleHeadline": "Scotland 20 - 26 South Africa: Gargantuan effort not quite enough","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542527714000 ,"articleLead": "

You had to feel a bit for Huw Jones. He scored the most superhumanly brilliant individual try for many a year and yet all everyone wanted to talk about before last night were a couple of mistakes.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831482.1542527709!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's Huw Jones and Josh Strauss at full time. Pic: SNS/Ross Parker"} ,"articleBody": "

But that is surely an indicator of how far this team have come. No more can a player luxuriate in the stupendous feat of dragging two desperate, clawing Englishmen over the line with him, secure in the knowledge that Scotland don’t touch down often and rarely if ever like that. Now they do.

So Jones, who helped win the Calcutta Cup nine months ago but missed a couple of tackles against Wales in the opening Autumn Test, lined up against South Africa under fierce scrutiny. A midfield marauder who’d bagged ten tries in only 17 games but whose place suddenly didn’t seem quite so assured. An electric finisher who was now being forensically assessed for his defence, up against some forces of nature in Springbok green.

Of course, no one wearing the dark blue in any position can neglect this duty. It will always be required of a Scottish XV no matter how impressive the revival, and this one under Gregor Townsend has certainly been that.

Would Jones have to pull off the most sensational block, the role-swap reverse of his famous try where he felled a couple of rumbling South African gargantuans just inches short of the line? Maybe the whole Scotland team would have to be not so much superhuman but transform themselves into superheroes.

In the week of the passing of Marvel Comics’ creative genius Stan Lee, why not? After all, the visitors looked like they’d selected a front row of Hulk, Thing and Apocalypse with Galactus and that unshy and non-retiring fellow Destroyer behind them. At No 8 Duane Vermeulen was actually rejoicing under the moniker “The God of Thunder”. Middle row RG Snyman towered over the scene and was surely breathing thinner air. No wonder Townsend was calling them “the biggest physical challenge in world rugby”.

The South African pack were almost a stone per man heavier than their opponents but standing like monster trucks for the anthems and grunting and heaving through the opening exchanges it looked even more than that. Had the away dressing-room undergone steel beam reinforcement? Were seismometers in position around genteel EH12 to check for things – and Things – going bump in the night?

Scotland opted to play in grey. Either that or it was supposed to be white but a cheap black sock hadn’t been cleared out of the washing machine. And even more unfortunately it was Jones’ opposite number at outside centre, Jesse Kriel, who opened the scoring after a smart South African burst from inside their own half. Kriel still had to wriggle through a gap that was barely there, just like Jones in the Calcutta Cup, but found a way.

Our man was no stranger to the South Africans, having turned out for Stormers and Western Province, and he had the chance to hit back immediately. But as Finn Russell fired a kick towards the posts and Jones gave chase he seemed to be impeded. The sell-out crowd thought so and booed loudly. The first examination of Jones’ tackling came soon after. First he downed Willie le Roux then, even more impressively, the human arctic that is Steven Kitshoff. By now Jones was heavily involved, fashioning promising openings, and then came a moment of genius. Well, two moments. Twice in one scintillating break he flipped passes round his back, first to Sean Maitland and then to Peter Horne who plunged for the try. There was a scuffle behind the posts and then a wait for verification before another dashing, flashing score was confirmed for the national collection, one that seems to expand with every Scotland performance

While that was beautiful, a different kind of admiration was required for the brutal. Randomly, Scotsmen would fly through the air, sometimes illegally. One of our guys would get in the way of the Springboks’ rolling maul and he’d be swatted like a belligerent toddler firing an unwanted toy across the nursery, or a battering ram would be inserted in the thicket of bodies and the hapless victim would be propelled backwards several yards.

There was artfulness, though, in the play of stand-off Handre Pollard who conjured up a purple patch for himself, bagging ten points in mere minutes and he’d eventually be named man-of-the-match. But the star play of the first half belonged to Scotland: a trademark spurt the length of the pitch from Stuart Hogg forcing the lineout from which Hamish Watson dived over for a try.

The buccaneering full-back carried on where he left off after the resumption. Two further charges were no less thrilling, especially the first following another Pollard penalty hammering off a post. South Africa had Le Roux yellow-carded but Scotland couldn’t quite make the numerical advantage count although they should be commended for having a bloody good go, turning down the chance of three points from a penalty to seek greater glory, ultimately denied them.

Then Hogg, smashed in the middle of the park, had to retire. Scotland were a superhero down.

They couldn’t quite get the ball all the way out to Jones after that and he was less prominent in the second half but he could be happy with his performance as part of a tenacious tartan unit who, even though South Africa seemed to be sending on ever-bigger replacements as part of some grim joke, continued to battle and scrap right to the end.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "AIDAN SMITH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831482.1542527709!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831482.1542527709!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland's Huw Jones and Josh Strauss at full time. Pic: SNS/Ross Parker","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's Huw Jones and Josh Strauss at full time. Pic: SNS/Ross Parker","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831482.1542527709!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5634350708001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/danny-willett-shares-dubai-lead-into-final-day-1-4831465","id":"1.4831465","articleHeadline": "Danny Willett shares Dubai lead into final day","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542520800000 ,"articleLead": "

Danny Willett admits he despised golf as he suffered through his personal version of Groundhog Day but will enjoy battling it out for the DP World Tour Championship title, regardless of the result.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831464.1542484213!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Danny Willett. Pic: Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

Former Masters champion Willett and current green jacket holder Patrick Reed, inset, share the lead on 14 under par heading into the final round of the season-ending event in Dubai, with Jordan Smith one shot behind at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Lee Westwood, who is seeking back-to-back wins following his victory in Sun City last week, is two shots off the lead alongside halfway leader Matt Wallace and South Africa’s Dean Burmester, with Rory McIlroy five adrift after a 71 which included a double-bogey on the 17th.

And with Tommy Fleetwood effectively conceding defeat to Ryder Cup partner Francesco Molinari in the battle to win the Race to Dubai, the stage is clear for a final-round shoot-out which could signal an emphatic end to Willett’s on-course struggles.

“It is very pleasing to see results out here and even at home when I practice I can see what is potentially around the corner,” Willett said after a third round of 68. “There were times when I was despising golf because it was like Groundhog Day; turn up, be in pain, miss the cut and repeat.

“When I met up with Foles [coach Sean Foley] at last year’s US PGA I was pretty low and open to trying anything and from that day onwards we’ve been on a good path and elongating a career that would have been disappointing to stop after five years because of being injured.”

Willett has not tasted victory since winning his first major title at Augusta in April 2016 and was outside the world’s top 450 earlier this season following numerous injuries and a loss of form.

But the 31-year-old from Sheffield has also shown signs of improvement with three top-ten
finishes and said recently he no longer felt like golf’s version of “Humpty Dumpty”.

“It was a very, very dark place,” he added. “There was no light coming through the trees. Just a big stump in front of my ball. My main goal this year was not really a golfing goal, but body-wise. If I could finish the season healthier and fitter than I started the season, I would be somewhere near and that’s exactly what we’ve done. I’m not going to lie, it would be an amazing thing to win, but regardless of what happens, just looking more in the long-term of my career, really, is pretty good.”

Reed shrugged off an indifferent warm-up and stiff back to card a five-under-par 67 as he looks to end the season on a high with his first win since making his own major breakthrough at Augusta.

“With the limited schedule that I play over here on the European Tour, to have a chance to go out and finish the year off right and win a golf tournament, give myself a little early Christmas gift of a trophy, would be amazing,” Reed said.

Fleetwood admitted his chances of lifting the trophy had disappeared with a lifeless 74 which left him just a shot ahead of Molinari but, more significantly, eight strokes behind Willett and Reed on a densely-packed leaderboard.

“Today pretty much summed up the second half of the season,” said Fleetwood, who needs to win the title to have any chance of overhauling Molinari on the money list. “I’ve done plenty of good stuff in tournaments and then had days like today. At the end of the day it’s just golf, but it does hurt when you have days like that. I feel the adrenaline might have gone now. I think you kind of know when your time’s up. I lasted within two days of the [end of the] season and like I’ve said, it was always a stretch trying to win it.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "PHIL CASEY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831464.1542484213!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831464.1542484213!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Danny Willett. Pic: Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Danny Willett. Pic: Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831464.1542484213!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/michael-o-neill-sees-positives-in-relegation-1-4831504","id":"1.4831504","articleHeadline": "Michael O’Neill sees positives in relegation","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542520800000 ,"articleLead": "

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill believes the Nations League has been a positive experience for his squad despite their relegation in the competition.

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O’Neill’s side have lost all three of their Nations League matches so far, rendering today’s finale against Austria at Windsor Park a dead rubber.

It has been a frustrating campaign, with Northern Ireland having 46 attempts at goal over their three matches but scoring just once.

But O’Neill said he had enjoyed the competition and believes it has done his team good to play alongside Austria and Bosnia and Herzegovina in Group B3.

“I think it’s a positive,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed the Nations League games, genuinely. It’s equipped the team well.”

O’Neill said he and the team have kept their focus on performances rather than results, so could take confidence from recent matches despite the lack of goals.

“The belief has never come out of the team, they just feel they haven’t got what they deserved in the games but 
they know part of that is 
self-inflicted as well,” he said.

“If you don’t take your chances, you can be punished, especially against teams with one special player like [Edin] Dzeko and [Marko] Arnautovic.

“We’ve good competition for places all over the pitch. I’m disappointed to lose the games but I’m not devastated or despondent because I think the team is progressing.”

O’Neill has selection decisions to make for today’s game, having called a number of younger players into the squad following the conclusion of the under-21s season.

Veteran Gareth McAuley could feature after making his Rangers debut on 8 November – his first appearance of the season after starting the campaign without a club.

“It’s great to be back involved in the squad,” the 38-year-old said. “It’s always a pleasure to represent my country and just to be back and getting the buzz of football and being involved in match days.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "IAN PARKER"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831503.1542494645!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831503.1542494645!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill. Pic: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill. Pic: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831503.1542494645!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/aberdeen/scott-mckenna-got-some-blunt-advice-from-aberdeen-great-willie-miller-1-4831387","id":"1.4831387","articleHeadline": "Scott McKenna got some blunt advice from Aberdeen great Willie Miller","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542520800000 ,"articleLead": "

In a career trajectory that has shot skywards at a meteoric rate, Scott McKenna remains grateful to those who have tried to keep his feet on the ground.

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Backslapping and platitudes have not been in short supply for the 22 year-old who, in the space of just 20 months, has journeyed from playing in the Championship with Ayr United on loan to become an established presence for both Aberdeen and Scotland, as well as the subject of transfer interest from Celtic and Aston Villa. Given those circumstances, it would be understandable if McKenna felt he could do no wrong.

There has been measured criticism along the way, however, and some of it from those very well placed to offer it. Think of Aberdeen and Scotland centre-halves and the mind is immediately drawn to Alex McLeish and Willie Miller, and McKenna has worked under both.

While McLeish, in his guise as Scotland manager, will be the voice loudest in his ear ahead of Tuesday night’s game against Israel at Hampden, McKenna can still remember the pointers drummed into him by Miller during his time as a youth player at Aberdeen under Miller’s command.

As a raw, teenage prospect – ridden with self-doubt and angst – hearing one of Scotland’s greatest defenders point out your flaws must have been a tough listen, but he remains appreciative of having sat through Miller’s life lessons.

“Willie coached me for a year or two at the under-17s and he was pretty blunt,” recalled McKenna. “We were young kids, maybe 14 or 15 at the time, and he was brutally honest with us. Things tend to be plain sailing when you are at that age and you don’t tend to get a lot of criticism so this was the awakening that you need. I just remember the first couple of weeks everyone was a bit taken aback by how he was. I remember thinking, ‘he can’t speak to me like that’. But it stood us in good stead for when we went full-time and people are shouting at you and getting on your case. It kind of bridged that gap for us.

“He was massive about our positioning and our communication. He said that if we could get other people working for us then it would make our jobs way easier. Which is probably quite true.”

McLeish has been similarly keen to offer advice. “We had a team meeting recently and a video debrief,” explained McKenna. “A couple of times he froze it and asked ‘could you have been here or done this?’ That’s communication. We watch games back and he tells me where I can improve.”

McKenna speaks in a quiet mature way that makes him seem far older than his tender years. He admits that it still seems surreal to be an established figure in the Scotland set-up but that he is gradually becoming more at ease. And the more settled he feels, the more comfortable he will be at expressing that on the pitch.

“I am not so nervous now [whenever the Scotland squad convenes] but I am still very quiet,” he admitted. “I just sit and listen to what the other boys are saying. I am not the vocal one and I am quite happy being like that just now. I am comfortable but I know there are boys in here I can learn off. In training I am more vocal and get stuck in but otherwise I keep myself to myself.

“I always think I have been quite vocal in a game and then the manager or my dad will say, ‘I didn’t hear you today’. It is always an area you can improve on.”

Training with Junior players in his hometown of Kirriemuir, the Angus village that lies north of Dundee, also prepared him for the physical challenges that lay ahead.

“I trained with Kirrie Thistle and Broughty Athletic mainly because my dad was involved. It probably toughened me up. It was nowhere near the level of Aberdeen but to get that physical development at 14 or 15 helped me.

“They were probably taking it easy with me being a kid but I was always trying to shove them off the ball. I couldn’t do it, but I would go in as hard as I could.”

A move to the English Premier League remains a long-term goal but McKenna knows he can’t allow himself to daydream.

“I think that is most people’s ambition,” he added. “It’s been a good year but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. If I take my eye off the ball it would be quite easy to slip out of the Aberdeen team and then that would seem a million miles away.”

And his old coach would no doubt be quick to point that out, too.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "GRAEME MACPHERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831386.1542477633!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831386.1542477633!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland's Scott McKenna. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's Scott McKenna. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831386.1542477633!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5800712439001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/rugby-union/scotland/selection-policy-puts-argentina-on-the-back-foot-1-4831452","id":"1.4831452","articleHeadline": "Selection Policy puts Argentina on the back foot","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542520800000 ,"articleLead": "

Argentina are under new management and with Mario Ledesma at the helm they will surely put up a better fight on Saturday than when Scotland ran in six tries against them last June. But the sad truth is that almost all of the Pumas’ best players will be missing at Murrayfield.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831451.1542480602!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ramiro Herrera of Argentina. Pic: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

All countries have issues with picking players who ply their trade abroad. New Zealand and England won’t consider it. Wales and Ireland will, but only if you have a certain number of caps or you are Johnny Sexton. Scotland and Italy almost encourage at least some of their marquee players to move abroad to help keep a lid on the wage bill back home and leave space for the next generation. It’s a fraught business, no one model can be adopted across all nations, but you have to wonder at the Argentine policy.

The Pumas’ best ever team finished third at the 2007 World Cup, having beaten the French hosts… twice. That team was almost exclusively selected from abroad, largely England and France, but since then Argentina has gained access to the Rugby Championship and Super Rugby via the Jaguares. Until recently there was a strict rule that said no foreign-based players could be selected for the Pumas outside of the World Cup.

Under a new coach that line has been blurred. A few key players were whistled up for this year’s Rugby Championship including props Juan Figallo (for two Tests) and Ramiro Herrera (for another two) who may be the best tighthead in world rugby. He is not available this tour and neither is Saracens’ Figallo, which is a shame.

With 22-year-old tighthead Santiago Medrano anchoring the pack in only his second ever start, the Pumas set scrum, once their weapon of choice, came under severe pressure from Ireland’s excellent front row during last week’s 28-17 loss in Dublin. It may have proved the difference between the two teams.

For this tour Ledesma appears to have gone back to basing his side solely upon the Jaguares, a ploy that almost guarantees failure despite two Championship wins this season. If Scotland struggle when fielding a side comprising players from their two pro teams (as they did against Wales) how can Argentina thrive if they pick from one Super Rugby squad?

Ledesma is no one’s fool. He may be looking at who, among his fringe players, performs on this tour, secure in the knowledge that he can call upon any number of veterans come next year’s World Cup.

One of those is veteran centre Marcelo Bosch who spoke out recently against the Pumas’ unfathomable selection policy.

“It seems that the rule is that the door is open but I don’t really know if the coach can call anyone he wants back. There is a grey area; we need clarification,” said the Saracens man.

“The new board that was elected in February and the ARU had the priority to change the rule and allow the coach to choose his players but nothing changes for the June Tests and the results weren’t good and then there was a change of coach. Ledesma recognised they lacked depth in the front row and I believe the call-up for Juan Figallo was an exception.

“I thought that if results before weren’t good they would call up European players but it didn’t happen in June when there were really poor performances.

“Other countries have made changes to bring back players from Europe and while I could understand the rule that was made after the 2015 World Cup by Argentina to keep young players at home, you could have reached some kind of compromise for those players already in Europe.”

Argentina simply don’t have the strength in depth to ignore their European stars but Ledesma is leaving it late to welcome them back into the fold and integrate them into his systems ahead of next year’s World Cup in Japan. In addition to the missing “magnificent seven” listed above there are numerous squad players who could still wield a shovel. Agen’s Facundo Bosch can, like Fraser Brown, turn out at hooker or flanker. Edinburgh’s centre Juan Pablo Socino has a brother Santiago who is a well-respected hooker at Newcastle Falcons. Patricio Fernandez is a young stand-off at Clermont who could back up Nicolas Sanchez while Castres’ occasional playmaker Benjamin Urdapilleta is at the opposite end of his career.

Oh, and the peerless stand-off Sanchez is joining Stade Francais at the end of the current tour which rather forces Ledesma’s hand in the same way that Johnny Sexton gave Joe Schmidt no option but to pick him out of Racing 92 for two seasons.

“The players in Europe still have a strong desire to play Test rugby,” added Bosch. “There are very good players who could add value to the team and increase competition for places increase the options for the coach.”

The Pumas have been drawn in Pool C for the 2019 World Cup alongside France and England. One of those big three will be heading home after the pool stages and, provided Ledesma picks his strongest side, you really wouldn’t want to bet who.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "IAIN MORRISON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831451.1542480602!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831451.1542480602!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ramiro Herrera of Argentina. Pic: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ramiro Herrera of Argentina. Pic: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831451.1542480602!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/competitions/scottish-cup/aidan-smith-scottish-cup-television-deal-no-match-for-netflix-1-4831385","id":"1.4831385","articleHeadline": "Aidan Smith: Scottish Cup television deal no match for Netflix","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542520800000 ,"articleLead": "

Every time Scottish football reaches a pretty pass and the issue is with TV, I always go in search of Archie Macpherson, Sportscene circa 1980 and his trusty Trimphone.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831384.1542471973!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "BT Sport have been widely praised for their coverage of Scottish football. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

When there’s some hassle or other over telly coverage of the game – and the latest of them is the Premier Sports deal for the Scottish Cup – then I ask myself: “What would Archie do?”

Nearly 40 years ago when there were pictures but no sound for the highlights of what we were promised had been a rip-snorting game between Aberdeen and Rangers at Pittodrie, the great ginger sage ad-libbed superbly, flagged up quiz results which were to be announced later in the programme and teased us about some of the wrong – and doubtless hilarious – answers. He was about to reveal exactly how wide of the mark Stephen Quinn from Kilmarnock had been when a voice buzzed in his earpiece.

“I think I’d better find out what’s happening to those highlights,” he said, picking up the slimline handset beloved of Noele Gordon and soap opera grande dames of the era. The voice on the phone, presumably different and more important than the one in the earpiece, immediately started screaming at Oor Archie. “For Christ’s sake!” was clearly heard.

At this, Macpherson pushed the receiver hard into his cheek. He was sparing small boys allowed to stay up late for the football from further possible sweary words – what a hero! “Yes, yes, I see,” he said, pretending this was an exchange with a polite man such as the local minister rather than the producer spontaneously combusting in the upstairs gantry. And then, finally, we got the match of the day.

Glorious comic interludes like this one are imprinted on the memories of fans my age and if they’ve somehow slipped the mind (come on, keep up) then there’s always YouTube for a quick refresh. They speak of a time in football broadcasting when things could go wrong. When they could be rescued by improv and grace under pressure. And when life was simple and choice was limited but no one ever complained: two channels, both free-to-air, no live games, highlights only, one match at a time, kick-offs always 3pm on a Saturday, and football sharing the show, on this occasion, with lawn bowls. It could, though, be pigeon racing. With the prize doos being interviewed in the studio. Or have I just dreamed that up? Answers on a postcard, please …

And now? Terrestrially, only BBC show top division football anymore, STV having long since given up the ghost, and two satellite channels who make us stump up for live games have just been joined by a third in Premier. The contract for the Scottish Cup, which is worth £20 million, means that if you want to watch everything, the lot, all the matches across all the competitions, then your subscription fees have just got bigger.

What would Archie say? That this isn’t right, that there’s too much football on the box, that we shouldn’t have to pay from our sofas to watch Kris Boyd ramming the ball into an empty net, in front of an empty Rugby Park stand? Maybe. But that particular genie has grunted and squeezed its way out of the bottle and we now have live games, lots of them, at random times and from increasingly random providers.

The Beeb must be spitting because they’re in on this deal, too, only most of the (bad) publicity has concerned fans having to fork out to Premier in addition to what they already pay Sky and BT Sport, and the message that the corporation will show more ties live than previously has kind of got lost.

It’s true that the BBC will focus on the first, second and third rounds while Premier are keeping their powder dry, doubtless hoping for Old Firm semi-finals all the way as they have first dibs come the last-but-one stage. Thus, the Beeb, the state broadcaster after all, dutifully play the part of Archie’s (fictitious) minister, tending all the airts, while the brash satellite newcomers breeze in at the business end of the competition.

Brash, but are they any good? Not according to received wisdom from fans who’ve paid for Premier’s coverage of Rangers games in Europe this season and, while there might not have been any loss of transmission, requiring an emergency pigeon insert or a gag at the expense of Stephen Quinn from Kilmarnock, the quality has left a lot to be desired. If they’re serious about representing the competition for the world’s oldest club trophy properly, like Macpherson would or dear old Arthur Montford, then it appears that Premier will seriously need to up their game. Right now in Scotland, that means being better than Sky and as good as BT Sport.

BT have done our football proud. They get its passion, traditions, quirkiness and determination to be seen as unique, different from the global blancmange, not a poor annexe of England. They assemble a banterish group of pundits who knot their designer scarves tightly against a usually snell wind and entertain us. Sky, the market leaders at this sort of thing, at least down south, have fallen behind woefully in their Scottish coverage, notwithstanding commentator Ian Crocker’s immortal line “Liam Henderson to deliver … ” at the climax to the Scottish Cup final of 2016.

But the bottom line here is the bottom line – what we pay for our football – and three different channels tapping us for cash will struggle for acceptance in my household and, I’m sure, many others. My wife loves Netflix and the high-end dramas on Sky Atlantic and so do I. There is only so much we’re able and willing to spend on TV when it all used to be free and Boydy vs Claire Foy in The Crown, inset, is no contest; Foy wins. Heck, if it was Brian Cox in Succession vs Liam back at Hibs … whisper it, but I might have to opt for Coxy.

Ideal world? I’ve said this before but I would cheerfully return to just a couple of highlights programmes, just a couple of games. I don’t really need to see much more football than I watch in the raw with my season ticket.

Though after all these years I’d quite like to find out what Stephen Quinn from Kilmarnock said that was so funny.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "AIDAN SMITH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831384.1542471973!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831384.1542471973!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "BT Sport have been widely praised for their coverage of Scottish football. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "BT Sport have been widely praised for their coverage of Scottish football. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831384.1542471973!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/tennis/boos-ring-out-at-the-o2-arena-as-alexander-zverev-beats-roger-federer-1-4831511","id":"1.4831511","articleHeadline": "Boos ring out at the O2 Arena as Alexander Zverev beats Roger Federer","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542497054000 ,"articleLead": "

One of the biggest wins of Alexander Zverev’s career was tainted by a ball boy interrupting a point during a crucial second-set tiebreaker.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831510.1542497051!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alexander Zverev celebrates defeating Roger Federer. Picture: Julian Finney/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Zverev, pictured, denied Roger Federer a shot at a 100th career title with a 7-5, 7-6 (5) victory yesterday to advance into today’s final at the 
ATP Finals at London’s O2 Arena.

Federer was leading the tiebreaker 4-3 and was in the ascendancy of a rally on a Zverev service point when a ball boy at the back of the court dropped a ball. Zverev immediately signalled for the point to be stopped and the umpire ordered the point to be replayed.

Zverev served an ace before going on to close out the match moments later.

“I want to apologise for the situation in the tiebreak,” said Zverev, who was booed by some members of the crowd during his on-court interview. “The ball boy dropped the ball so it’s in the rules that we have to replay the point. I’m a little bit upset about the whole situation because this is not how I wanted it to end.”

Federer didn’t think Zverev needed to say sorry to anyone. “He apologised to me at the net,” said the 37-year-old. “I was like, ‘Buddy, shut up. You don’t need to apologise to me here. Congratulations on a great match and a great tournament so far. All the best for the finals.’ And you move on.”

Zverev, 21, is the youngest player to reach the final of the season-ending event since 2009 and the first from Germany since 1996. Today he will play Novak Djokovic, who beat Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2 in last night’s other semi-final.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "EVE FODENS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831510.1542497051!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831510.1542497051!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alexander Zverev celebrates defeating Roger Federer. Picture: Julian Finney/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alexander Zverev celebrates defeating Roger Federer. Picture: Julian Finney/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831510.1542497051!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}