{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"sport","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/aberdeen/aberdeen-risks-losing-internationals-without-new-stadium-says-sfa-1-4663835","id":"1.4663835","articleHeadline": "Aberdeen ‘risks losing internationals’ without new stadium, says SFA","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516195229000 ,"articleLead": "

Aberdeen will be forced to miss out on hosting international matches if plans for a new stadium at Kingsford are blocked, the Scottish FA has warned.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663832.1516195222!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aberdeen could lose out on Scotland internationals and European football without a new stadium. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

READ MORE - Aberdeen chief hopes stadium plans get green light

Aberdeenshire Council last week reiterated its objection to the plans for a new £50 million stadium and training complex, with the Dons seeking to leave their current home of Pittodrie.

A specially convened meeting will be held ion 29 Janaury to rule on the plans.

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan has backed the proposals, insisting that the new development would keep Aberdeen in the running for hosting future Scotland international matches.

Pittodrie is currently unable to fulfil top level criteria on both a domestic and European grade.

“Pittodrie can only ever achieve the silver level of the Scottish FA’s licensing regime because of its field and dressing room dimensions, spectator areas, the provision for disabled fans and the media facilities,” said Regan.

“And with the introduction of the Uefa Nations League replacing international friendlies, last year’s match against the Netherlands could be the last time [Aberdeen] will host a Scotland international.”

This, Regan added, further underlined the importance of a new arena in the city ‘to enhance Aberdeen’s ability to host internationals and European football.’

Both the SFA and the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) have given their backing to the new development, and the SPFL chief Neil Doncaster echoed his SFA counterpart’s comments.

“Aberdeen is the dominant footballing force in the north east and its role in developing the next generation of talented Scottish footballers makes these elite training facilities essential.

“It’s difficult to overstate the positive impact this development will have on the region’s sporting performance. The proposed development would further strengthen the city’s position as a Scottish sporting powerhouse.”

If Aberdeen are forced to remain at Pittodrie and thus unable to host European matches, the Dons could end up playing these fixtures in Glasgow or Edinburgh, or at Dundee’s new stadium provided it gets the green light.

Dons chairman Stewart Milne remained optimistic over the proposal, and said: “Hopefully, it is third time lucky. We believe we’ve put forward a very, very strong case for Kingsford.”

READ MORE - Video: Aberdeen’s proposed Kingsford stadium

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663832.1516195222!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663832.1516195222!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Aberdeen could lose out on Scotland internationals and European football without a new stadium. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aberdeen could lose out on Scotland internationals and European football without a new stadium. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663832.1516195222!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663833.1516195226!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663833.1516195226!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Dons are hopeful that the plans will get the green light. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Dons are hopeful that the plans will get the green light. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663833.1516195226!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1507809404937"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/more-in-sport/2018-commonwealth-games-scotland-name-toni-shaw-14-in-swimming-squad-1-4663706","id":"1.4663706","articleHeadline": "2018 Commonwealth Games: Scotland name Toni Shaw, 14, in swimming squad","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516190789000 ,"articleLead": "

Team Scotland has announced its youngest member for this year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663705.1516190787!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aberdeen's Toni Shaw will be part of Team Scotland for this year's Commonwealth Games. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Para-Swimmer Toni Shaw, 14, holds 14 Scottish records in the S9 and S10 categories and won multiple medals at the World Para-Swimming Series to earn selection to the senior team for the World Para-Swimming Championships in Mexico.

Fellow teenager Beth Johnston, 16, also makes the Scotland Para-Swimming squad.

Powerlifter Micky Yule, twice a gold medal winner from the Invictus Games, will be looking to go one better than his fourth place in Glasgow.

“I go to the Gold Coast with one mission and that’s to come home with a medal. Nothing else will do,” said Yule.

Perth table tennis player Gavin Rumgay is set to represent Team Scotland at a fourth Commonwealth Games, while Craig Howieson and Colin Dalgleish are also set to compete in Australia.

Erin Wallace, former Commonwealth Youth Games gold medalist over 1500 metres, will race the Triathlon event, including the mixed relay.

Team Scotland also announced a 12-strong basketball squad led by Great Britain captain Kieron Achara and Glasgow Rocks veteran Gareth Murray.

Scotland have high hopes of following on from the success of Glasgow 2014, where the hosts were fourth in the medals table, when they head to the Gold Coast in April.

Basketball is returning to the Games for the first time since 2006, which gives Murray the chance to represent Scotland once again while Achara is set for his debut in the competition.

At 17, Callan Low will be the youngest player ever to represent Team Scotland in basketball.

Scotland will open their Commonwealth Games campaign against England in Townsville on April 5 before other Pool B matches against Cameroon and India.

Achara, who was part of the Team GB squad at the London 2012 Olympics, said: “I am really excited to be part of Team Scotland for the first time, having missed out in 2006 due to injury.

“This is a unique opportunity for us to represent Scotland and the whole team have been working hard to ensure that we are the best prepared team on the Gold Coast this April.

“Having been part of Team GB at London 2012, I know how special multi-sport events are and being part of the wider Team Scotland will be a really enjoyable experience for the whole team.”

Some 117 athletes have now been named for Team Scotland.

Chef de Mission Jon Doig said: “It is fantastic to welcome athletes back to Team Scotland for their second, third or even fourth Games, along with an exciting group of young athletes making their debut at this level.

“Every athlete named to the team has met our tough selection standards and I look forward to watching them all perform with distinction in Gold Coast.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663705.1516190787!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663705.1516190787!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Aberdeen's Toni Shaw will be part of Team Scotland for this year's Commonwealth Games. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Aberdeen's Toni Shaw will be part of Team Scotland for this year's Commonwealth Games. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663705.1516190787!/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/laura-robson-backs-renaming-of-margaret-court-arena-1-4663702","id":"1.4663702","articleHeadline": "Laura Robson backs renaming of Margaret Court Arena","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516190240000 ,"articleLead": "

Laura Robson became the first current player at the Australian Open to advocate renaming Margaret Court Arena.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663701.1516190237!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Laura Robson says she would 'lean towards' renaming Margaret Court Arena. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The former British number one believes Court’s outspoken and hugely controversial views about LGBT issues and same-sex marriage do merit action from Tennis Australia and the Victorian government.

Billie Jean King spoke out strongly against Court on the eve of the tournament but players competing in the year’s first grand slam have been reluctant to get involved in the row.

Robson said: “It’s a tough one because she obviously achieved so much but, if someone is being asked to play on that court and they don’t maybe feel comfortable, or people in the crowd feel a little awkward about sitting on there, then people need to have more of a think about it and decide what is best going forward. I would kind of lean towards renaming it.”

Robson has history on the matter after wearing a rainbow hairband during a first-round match on the court six years ago in a show of support for equal rights.

Sadly her lowly ranking now means she is a long way from playing another match in the arena but she was reminded of that moment this week when one of the ball boys from the match (@mitchgrow) sent her a message on Twitter to say how much it had meant to him.

Robson was thrilled to learn she had made such an impact, saying: “The message he sent me was so sweet. At the time you don’t know if it does anything or if it makes a difference. It seemed like such a minor thing for me to do then, but it obviously made a difference to someone else on that court. It was really lovely that he sent me that message so many years later.”

Robson also recalled the reaction her gesture received back home.

She said: “Some of my mum’s older friends were like, ‘Is Laura a lesbian?’ She was like, ‘I’ll have to ask her.’

“It just seemed like a nice thing to do at the time. I didn’t think too much about it before I went on court. It’s so nice, so many years later that someone reaches out to you and says, ‘That actually made a difference’.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663701.1516190237!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663701.1516190237!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Laura Robson says she would 'lean towards' renaming Margaret Court Arena. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Laura Robson says she would 'lean towards' renaming Margaret Court Arena. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663701.1516190237!/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/glasgow-warriors/scotland-hooker-george-turner-signs-permanent-glasgow-warriors-deal-1-4663698","id":"1.4663698","articleHeadline": "Scotland hooker George Turner signs permanent Glasgow Warriors deal","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516189978000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland hooker George Turner has made his loan switch from Edinburgh to Glasgow a permanent move after agreeing a two-year Warriors contract.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663696.1516189975!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "George Turner in action for Warriors against Cardiff Blues. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

Turner swapped Myreside for Scotstoun back in the summer and will now remain in the west until at least May 2020.

Turner spent six frustrating years in the capital - making just one start as he struggled to oust the likes of Ross Ford and Stuart McInally.

But his impressive form for Dave Rennie’s Guinness PRO14 leaders saw him named in Gregor Townsend’s Dark Blues squad for the NatWest 6 Nations.

The 25-year-old has so far registered 12 appearances for his new club, scoring four tries.

Turner said: “I’m really happy to be staying in Glasgow. I’ve enjoyed my time at the club and it’s been good getting a lot of game time this season.

“I’ve learnt a lot from the coaches and players at the club and I know I’ve got a lot more to learn.

“Scotstoun is the best place for me to continue my development and I’m looking forward to the next couple of years.”

Warriors forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys added: “George has settled really quickly and has played a lot of games for us already this season.

“We’ve been impressed with his abrasiveness in defence and dynamism across the park.

“He’s made a real impact and has gone on to represent his country, so we’re delighted he’s committed his future to the club.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663696.1516189975!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663696.1516189975!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "George Turner in action for Warriors against Cardiff Blues. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "George Turner in action for Warriors against Cardiff Blues. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663696.1516189975!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5701006688001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/rangers/ian-mccall-claims-rangers-target-jordan-jones-isn-t-worth-300k-1-4663611","id":"1.4663611","articleHeadline": "Ian McCall claims Rangers target Jordan Jones ‘isn’t worth £300k’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516187232000 ,"articleLead": "

Ian McCall has sparked controversy after claiming that Kilmarnock winger Jordan Jones isn’t worth the £350,000 offered by Rangers - and is worth less than half that sum.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663608.1516187224!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ayr United boss Ian McCall made the comments on BBC Sportsound. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

READ MORE - Rangers bid for Jordan Jones ‘easy to turn down’ says Kilmarnock boss

McCall - manager of Killie’s rivals Ayr United - was speaking on BBC Sportsound earlier this week and claimed that the 23-year-old wideman lacks an end product.

Jones was part of the Kilmarnock team defeated by the Honest Men in a Betfred Cup tie during the summer, and McCall pulled no punches when speaking about the player on radio.

“I’ve seen him in one game against us,” McCall said.

“He’s got pace, he plays out wide. He was their main threat but he didn’t really do anything. There was no end product.

“I think [Rangers] were well off the mark [with their offer] - I’d pay £150,000 for him,” McCall claimed.

Rugby Park boss Steve Clarke hit out at the offer from Rangers, branding it ‘nowhere near acceptable.’

Clarke added: “I would be a little bit sad if I was the player, to be honest, that the bid was so low. It was an easy one for the club to turn down.”

Former Rangers striker Kris Boyd also had sharp words for the Ibrox side, adding: “There’s one club unsettling everybody; if they want players then pay the money and come and take them.

“There’s no point in dropping phone calls in here saying they want to do this or that. If you want something you go and get it.

“We all know how football works. If a deal has been agreed and Jordan is happy with it, then go and pay the price to the football club. If Rangers want Jordan they’ll need to pay the money.”

READ MORE - Kris Boyd accuses Rangers of unsettling clubs with ‘derisory offers’

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663608.1516187224!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663608.1516187224!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ayr United boss Ian McCall made the comments on BBC Sportsound. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ayr United boss Ian McCall made the comments on BBC Sportsound. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663608.1516187224!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663609.1516187229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663609.1516187229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jordan Jones in action for Kilmarnock against Rangers. The Ibrox club put in a bid for the winger that was turned down. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jordan Jones in action for Kilmarnock against Rangers. The Ibrox club put in a bid for the winger that was turned down. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663609.1516187229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5688120730001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/justin-rose-and-matt-kuchar-to-play-in-scottish-open-at-gullane-1-4663560","id":"1.4663560","articleHeadline": "Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar to play in Scottish Open at Gullane","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516184147000 ,"articleLead": "

Justin Rose, the 2014 winner, and Matt Kuchar, who was runner-up the following season, have handed this year’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open an early boost by confirming they are both heading back to Gullane in July.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663558.1516184140!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Justin Rose, the 2014 winner, confirmed his appearance in this year's Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open during a press conference for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The duo, who are both in the world’s top 15, revealed the event’s return to the East Lothian venue, where Rickie Fowler won in 2015, is on their 2018 schedules as they prepared for this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, the first big event of the season on the European Tour.

“I’m going to play the Scottish Open,” said Rose, who beat a field that included Rory McIlroy to claim the title at Royal Aberdeen and defended it at Gullane but then missed the next two stagings at Castle Stuart and Dundonald Links.

“Gullane is a good golf course and I really enjoy it. Just being in Scotland for two weeks is a nice part of the year. It’s traditional golf. It’s big crowds and the Scottish Open is a big event, now a Rolex Series event.

“So it’s never a warm up, but it kind of gets you in the mode of playing in the wind and seeing the right shots. Just getting the feel of the bounce of the ball is really, really important.”

After opening with a brace of 66s in 2015, the Englishman fell away after closing rounds of 72 and 76 to finish 74th. Nonetheless, that preparation helped him claim a share of sixth spot behind Zach Johnson in the Open Championship at St Andrews the following week and now he’s hoping a similar plan of attack can help him get in the mix for this year’s Claret Jug joust at Carnoustie.

“Carnoustie is a great venue,” added Rose, who is starting the 2018 campaign as world No 6 after ending last year with ten consecutive top-10 finishes, an impressive run that included three wins, including the WGC-HSBC Champions in China.

“In 1999, I think it was set up unfairly an got a reputation for being a real brute, but I think it’s a fun golf course to play and it’s actually a playable golf course. We play it in the Dunhill Links and it’s scoreable and it will be somewhere in the middle for the Open Championship. It’s a venue that I am looking forward to.”

The same goes for Kuchar, who finished second to Jordan Spieth in that event at Royal Birkdale last year, and the American is hoping his return to Gullane can get him ready for his bid to go one better this time around.

“Sure, I plan on being back,” said Kuchar, who has become an Affiliate Member of the European Tour this season. “The Scottish Open is an event I’ve really come to enjoy. I think it’s a great lead in to the British Open.

“I actually went when I was an amateur and played at Loch Lomond a number of years. I love Loch Lomond. I didn’t think it was a great tune up but loved the golf course and the hospitality there.

“I think what they have done with moving it to links courses has been a very smart move and finishing second to Rickie at Gullane a couple of years ago was a great week and I’m certainly looking forward to going back.”

The seven-time PGA Tour winner shot four rounds in the 60s three years ago, finishing a shot behind Fowler after his compatriot produced a wonder shot at the 72nd hole for a title-winning birdie.

“I remember playing Gullane as an amateur in a fun round of golf and enjoying the golf course,” he added. “I think it’s a nice warm up. It doesn’t beat you up, but it provides enough challenges. It provides enough of the pot bunkers that you need to avoid.

“It certainly provides the wind and exposure to the wind and the elements and the fescue greens to get used to, so it’s definitely a good warm up.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "MARTIN DEMPSTER"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663558.1516184140!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663558.1516184140!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Justin Rose, the 2014 winner, confirmed his appearance in this year's Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open during a press conference for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Justin Rose, the 2014 winner, confirmed his appearance in this year's Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open during a press conference for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663558.1516184140!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663559.1516184143!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663559.1516184143!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Matt Kuchar, who is making is first appearance in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, is already looking forward to his return to Gullane in July. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Matt Kuchar, who is making is first appearance in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, is already looking forward to his return to Gullane in July. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663559.1516184143!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/desert-shock-will-drive-paul-lawrie-in-bid-to-win-back-card-1-4663489","id":"1.4663489","articleHeadline": "Desert ‘shock’ will drive Paul Lawrie in bid to win back card","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516181128000 ,"articleLead": "

Paul Lawrie is more determined than ever to regain full playing privileges for the European Tour after cutting it fine in keeping his perfect attendance record in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663486.1516183758!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paul Lawrie was the last man in to this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The 49-year-old was the last man in to this week’s event, having been fourth reserve when he arrived in the UAE at the weekend before coming off the standby list on Tuesday when Australian Brett Rumford withdrew with a wrist injury.

It means Lawrie has retained his place among a small group of golfers to have played in one of the biggest events on the European Tour since its inception in 2006, the others to have teed up every year since then being Marc Warren, Henrik Stenson, Gregory Havret and Graeme Storm.

While surprised it came down to the wire, the reason that Lawrie almost missed out on this occasion is that he is currently having to rely on his category as one of the top 40 career-money earners on the circuit.

That would normally have got him into both this and next week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic quite comfortably, but he is currently 13th reserve for the latter and will almost certainly miss out on playing in that for only the second time since 1992.

“I couldn’t believe when the entries closed for this week’s event that I was fourth or fifth reserve,” the eight-time European Tour winner told The Scotsman on the practice putting green at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. “To be honest, I didn’t even look and it was a bit of a surprise as we’d already booked flights and hotels for the next two weeks.

“Next week is just scary, though I suppose the two events being together has meant more players teeing up in both of them. That said, you’d have thought the category straight after guys who’ve got a card would be a lot closer than where I actually am.

“So it was a little bit of a shock that it came to the last minute, but I’m glad that I’m now in the field this week. I think I’ve got three more years in my current category still being exempt out here but, if you are not going into events like this from that, then you have got to try and keep your card. My goal is to play well enough this season to do that. I still feel as though I can compete if I stay healthy.”

Over the last couple of seasons, Lawrie has been hampered by a troublesome foot injury, which resulted in him going to Germany in November to see Dr Hans Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt, a homeopathic specialist who helped prolong Jose Maria Olazabal’s career when the two-time Masters champion was was hit by rheumatoid arthritis.

“Apart from a few North-East Alliance events, Portugal in late September was the last tournament I played in, so I’m not sure what we are going to get this week,” he added. “The good thing is that I can see how my feet are because, in a one-off Alliance event, it’s not a test in that respect as you’re not hitting it under Tour conditions.

“They certainly feel better, though I won’t know until the next couple of days. It’s the walking and competing - the stress of it all compared to playing a bounce game with your loon.

“I’ve got to go back and see Dr Muller-Wohlfahrt in March. He’s not saying it’s totally fixed yet. He’s just saying there’s a process and we are a bit down it. He said I shouldn’t read too much into the first week back. It’s a long-term thing.”

The highlight of last season for Lawrie was winning the Dimension Data Pro-Am in South Africa, a success that earned him a place in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. In an ideal world, he’d have been returning to Fancourt next month to defend that title, but focusing on the European Tour is more important.

“I’m going to play Oman that week,” said Lawrie of the new Middle East event on this year’s schedule. “I sent the Dimension Data guy and email the other day saying I was sorry that I couldn’t come back to defend that this year.

“It’s important that I get my Tour numbers up and I’ll be back out for two weeks as I’ll have Qatar as well on that trip. It is is disappointing not to be defending in South Africa, but sometimes these things happen.”

In a years’ time, Lawrie will be eligible for Seniors’ events but it remains to be seen if that new chapter in his career will start on the Champions Tour in the US or the newly-branded Starsure Tour in Europe.

“I still don’t know exactly what I am going to do when I turn 50 as I don’t know what my exemption actually is for the Champions Tour,” he said. “There was word of them changing the major winner category to give people in that position a full year.

“Darren [Clarke] and Chubby [Chandler] were on about that, but I don’t know if that is actually the case. The plan at the minute is to play as many main Tour events as I can and mix in Senior events when I can.

“If that means it is European Senior Tour events rather than Champions Tour events, then I’m not bothered about that. I just want to get back to being competitive. It will be nice go back to being the youngest guy on the range as opposed to the oldest, which seems to have happened overnight.”

Lawrie’s oldest son, Craig, is on caddying duties this week, having given his own playing career a boost just before Christmas with his first victory as a professional on the Algarve Pro Golf Tour.

More recently, younger sibling Michael, who is still an amateur, also tasted success in Stirling University’s 72-hole event at Al Hamra in the UAE, leaving dad pleased about how both players are progressing in their respective careers.

“Craig’s first win was a huge thing for him, just in terms of confidence,” he admitted. “I think he’s got what it takes to play out here, never mind anywhere else. But you’ve still got to be able to do it and that first win was important.

“It was also great for Michael to win the Stirling event in his first year there. All the seniors were there so he was cock-a-hoop and rightly so. Our Michael doesn’t get excited too often. He’s quite cool and laid back but you could tell he was chuffed to bits.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "MARTIN DEMPSTER"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663486.1516183758!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663486.1516183758!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Paul Lawrie was the last man in to this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paul Lawrie was the last man in to this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663486.1516183758!/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/rangers/kris-commons-jason-cummings-not-the-brightest-but-will-boost-rangers-1-4662789","id":"1.4662789","articleHeadline": "Kris Commons: Jason Cummings ‘not the brightest’ but will boost Rangers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516180931000 ,"articleLead": "

That’s the assessment offered by Kris Commons, the former Celtic attacking midfielder who spent a brief spell as a team-mate of Cummings when on loan at Hibs a year ago.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663208.1516138990!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "New Rangers loan signing Jason Cummings can lift the dressing room, says Kris Commons. Picture: Kirk O'Rourke/Rangers FC"} ,"articleBody": "

The 22-year-old striker, once memorably described by former Easter Road manager Terry Butcher as a cross between a genius and a clown, is back in Scottish football for the rest of this season after Rangers secured him on loan from Nottingham Forest with an option to buy him in the summer.

Cummings struggled to make an impact in the English Championship but Commons believes his switch to Ibrox can bring out the best in him.

In particular, Commons feels the Scotland international will relish the higher profile games the move offers him, prompting a return to the form which saw Cummings score eight goals in 11 appearances for Hibs against Rangers before he left last year.

“Jason is a character who does things without thinking but that’s probably the best thing about him,” said Commons.

“He doesn’t get too fazed by big games, which is maybe why he’s always done well in them for Hibs in the past. He is a bit up and down and I don’t know what his best position is – I can’t say he’s an out and out No 9.

“Jason seems like Leigh Griffiths was like eight or nine years ago in that you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get from him. It’s only because of the work Brendan Rodgers has done with Leigh that has propelled him to be No 9 for Celtic and Scotland.

“So Jason just needs a bit of guidance on his best position and on his attributes and to work on his weaknesses to make him a better player. At Forest, they didn’t seem to know where to play him to get the best out of him and that’s why he only scored once for them [in the Championship].

“He knows the kind of environment he is coming into at Rangers. I know it’s not gone down too well on social media with a few Hibs fans. But he’s trying to do the best for his own career and after one goal in 14 [league games] at Forest, something had to change.

“He needed to get his season going again and whether that is coming up here for six months, get going again and go back to Forest, or stay at Rangers, I don’t know. But it’s hard as a striker to play well in a team that is struggling and Forest are 15th in the Championship at the minute.

“It’s difficult to build momentum as a striker when you are not in your position and the team is not making a lot of chances. But under Graeme Murty at Rangers he will be around some people he knows. He will not be far from Edinburgh and hopefully those home comforts will help him put a lot more concentration into a game.”

While Rangers will hope for an immediate impact on the field from Cummings, he will also be an asset off the pitch according to Commons.

“He’s a funny guy, who is up for anything,” he added. “He certainly lifts the mood of the dressing room. Because he’s not the brightest, he amuses everyone. You could be having a bit of a nightmare day but because he is there, he lifts the place.

“I wasn’t at Hibs the day he was wrestling in his pants in the canteen but I saw it on social media! When I was sharing a changing room with him, he wasn’t too bad. I don’t know if me walking in there meant he tried to give off a more professional persona. But he was just a funny guy with a lot of ability. He just needed guidance and that’s where I thought Neil Lennon was good with him.

“But being 300 miles away from home and not playing every week in the English Championship is tough. Sometimes as a younger player you need people around you and I don’t know if Jason had that down there.”

Cummings is poised to make his debut for Rangers when they open their Scottish Cup campaign on Sunday with a fourth round tie at Highland League side Fraserburgh.

It is a competition which offers manager Murty a chance to press his claim for the job beyond the end of the season but Commons feels even claiming a piece of major silverware in May won’t solve the wider problems facing Rangers.

“Deep down they know they won’t win the league this season,” he added. “If they could win the cup, that would be a big coup.

“But I don’t see winning a cup will give them momentum. They need a long-term strategy. They tried to get a manager after seven weeks of chasing Derek McInnes and not getting him. They’ve had to give it to Murty because there is not anyone else. I don’t think they have the money or resources to get a big name like an Alan Pardew, when he was available. And the money they have invested in the squad –

£9.5 million – they have paid a lot of money in wages to a few foreign players. But they are now in a transition period where they will be looking to stop Celtic winning ten-in-a-row. No question. Whether they win a cup between now and that happening, stopping ten is the big thing for Rangers.

“They needed to do something in this transfer window and they’ve brought a few loans in. It’s funny how they’re going back to the British-based players, the ones who know about the league, Rangers, their rivalry with Celtic and the expectations of the club.

“Pedro Caixinha came in, signed all of those foreign players and gave them massive amounts of money and that certainly hasn’t paid off. Alfredo Morelos has done all right but I wouldn’t say he’s a natural goalscorer.

“Daniel Candeias started off slowly but has recently looked as though he might be a

player but when you look at Carlos Pena and big Bruno Alves, you can’t say that they’re worth the money that they’re getting.

“Hence they’re now going for tried and trusted British players who know a bit about it. There needs to be an understanding between Graeme Murty, the coaching staff and the players. I think the language barrier between the manager and some of the players played a big part earlier in the season.”

• Kris Commons was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663208.1516138990!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663208.1516138990!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "New Rangers loan signing Jason Cummings can lift the dressing room, says Kris Commons. Picture: Kirk O'Rourke/Rangers FC","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "New Rangers loan signing Jason Cummings can lift the dressing room, says Kris Commons. Picture: Kirk O'Rourke/Rangers FC","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663208.1516138990!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5633006826001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/rangers/rumour-mill-leeds-eye-windass-hearts-close-in-on-naismith-norwich-want-dons-ace-gers-coach-quits-1-4663465","id":"1.4663465","articleHeadline": "Rumour Mill: Leeds eye Windass | Hearts close in on Naismith | Norwich want Dons ace | Gers coach quits","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516178107000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish football gossip: Leeds United want Josh Windass, Hearts close in on Naismith deal, Norwich City eyeing £500k bid for Kenny McLean and Rangers coach set to make swift exit

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663461.1516178103!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Josh Windass is a reported target for Leeds United. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

Leeds eye Windass bid

Leeds United are set to test Rangers’ resolve with a bid for attacking midfielder Josh Windass.

The Elland Road side look set to better Preston North End’s reported £500,000 offer for the 24-year-old as Thomas Christiansen prepares to bolster his squad.

However, Windass is said to be happy at Ibrox so Leeds will have their work cut out in trying to tempt the player south. (Daily Record)

Lafferty blow for Hearts

Kyle Lafferty’s red card at Pittodrie against Aberdeen has ruled him out of Hearts’ next three games, it has been revealed.

The Northern Irish striker was given his marching orders for a foul on Graeme Shinnie on December 30, with the two-match ban ruling him out of the Hibs and Hamilton games.

However, he was due to serve a suspension against Accies after picking up six bookings and that ban rules him out of the Motherwell match. (Evening News)

Gray faces up to three months out

Hibs have learned that David Gray is likely to be out for up to three months with the Achilles injury he sustained in Friday’s friendly against Willem II in the Algarve.

Neil Lennon initially feared his captain may not play again this season but there is a chance he may be able to avoid surgery and return in the spring.

With Steven Whittaker struggling, Lennon has no senior right-back. It remains to be seen if any other new faces will be recruited before the Scottish Cup clash. (Evening News)

Rangers coach set to quit

Rangers Under-20 coach Stuart Taylor, who was appointed just days ago, is set to quit Ibrox to team up with Paul Lambert at Stoke City.

The ex-Airdrie midfielder was brought in to fulfil the role vacated by Graeme Murty, who was appointed manager of Rangers, but it looks as though Taylor could make a swift exit.

The 43-year-old served as first team coach alongside Lambert at Wolves and looks set to link up with the former Celtic and Scotland star once again. (Various)

Jambos set to seal Naismith loan

Hearts are said to be close to finalising a loan deal for Steven Naismith, with the former Rangers and Kilmarnock striker set to move within the next 48 hours.

The 31-year-old has fallen out of favour at Norwich City and had been linked with a return to Ibrox, while the Rugby Park side were also said to be keen.

But the former Scotland striker could be signed in time to face Hibs in the Scottish Cup derby on Sunday. (Scottish Sun)

Ayr boss trolls rivals over Jordan Jones

Ayr United boss Ian Mccall reckons Rangers offered too much for Kilmarnock winger Jordan Jones, suggesting the wideman is only worth £150,000.

McCall said of the player, who is valued at £1 million by Killie: “I think they’re well off the mark... I’d pay £150,000 for him!

“I’ve seen him in one game when he played against us. He was their main threat but he didn’t really do anything, there was no end product I didn’t think.” (BBC Sportsound)

St Johnstone eye loan deal for Swanson

St Johnstone are reportedly keen on bringing Danny Swanson back to Perth for a third spell, as they look to land the Hibs midfielder on a loan deal.

Swanson sealed a move to his boyhood heroes during the summer but a mix of injuries and off-field issues mean the Leith attacker has struggled to get going at Easter Road.

And Tommy Wright wants to bring last season’s top scorer back to McDiarmid Park in a bid to cope with Michael O’Halloran’s return to Rangers. (Scottish Sun)

Norwich prepare £500k McLean bid

Norwich City are set to offer Aberdeen £500,000 for the services of midfield ace Kenny McLean. The former St Mirren star has indicated his desire to leave Pittodrie in the summer but Dons boss Derek McInnes admitted the player could be sold in this window.

Canaries boss Daniel Farke is keen to bring McLean in now rather than for free in the summer. Rangers had a £300,000 bid for the player rejected last summer. (Scottish Sun)

Kyle laughs off transfer talk

Kyle Lafferty has rubbished transfer rumours linking him with a move to the ‘Middle East or Asia’.

The Northern Irishman was mentioned in an article in Australian media suggesting Tim Cahill had been offered to Hearts and Hibs and Lafferty was set to exit Hearts.

However, the striker took to Twitter to say: “Not sure where all this moving talk has come from. I’m going nowhere and I am not looking to move anywhere.” (Various)

NEWS IN BRIEF

• Hearts coach Jon Daly has admitted he’d love a proper shot at management - but the former Tynecastle caretaker boss is happy to bide his time

• Liam Henderson has reportedly been offered a contract by Serie B promotion hopefuls Bari, after the Celtic midfielder impressed during a trial spell

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663461.1516178103!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663461.1516178103!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Josh Windass is a reported target for Leeds United. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Josh Windass is a reported target for Leeds United. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663461.1516178103!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5688120730001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/martyn-mclaughlin-the-racism-cyrille-regis-battled-is-still-with-us-1-4663195","id":"1.4663195","articleHeadline": "Martyn McLaughlin: The racism Cyrille Regis battled is still with us","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516168800000 ,"articleLead": "

Despite the progress made since the 1970s, racism remains a scourge on the beautiful game, writes Martyn McLaughlin.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663193.1516135491!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cyrille Regis was a trailblazer who inspired generations of black footballers. Picture: PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

It is only right that the untimely death of Cyrille Regis, the former England footballer, has prompted heartfelt tributes from across the world of sport and beyond. As one of the first high-profile black professionals in the British game, he endured a torrent of nauseating abuse throughout a career defined by dignity and defiance.

He was a man bestowed with strength, dynamism, and vision, but such traits were anathema to a warped minority who perceived otherness not as a gift, but an abnormality. From the terraces, throngs of thousands strong hurled slurs with absolute impunity. “Nigger, nigger lick my boots,” went one chant, which presumably found favour on account of its modest syllable count.

The moments of pride, such as winning a first call-up for his country, lanced long-festering boils among support that found room to accommodate the National Front and their ilk. Undeterred, Regis channelled the hurt into anger, and pulled on the shirt.

It is the duty of obituarists to accord Regis the status of a trailblazer, given how he was one of just a handful of young sportsmen to bear an unconscionable burden for no other reason than the colour of their skin. But such a distinction, fitting though it may be, risks inferring that the arduous journey those pioneering players embarked upon has reached a satisfactory end.

For that reason, the early day motion laid down in Westminster by a clutch of Labour MPs in memory of Regis is a fitting accolade. Not only does it salute his contribution to tackling racism in sport, it implores the government to “redouble its efforts” to work alongside governing bodies and clubs to banish it for good.

READ MORE: Cyrille Regis: The gentle giant who braved it all

Regis, together with peers such as Laurie Cunningham, John Barnes, and Mark Walters, helped rid the grounds of a uniquely toxic strain of overt bigotry. The sickening abuse reduced in volume as other supporters, who for so long accepted such behaviour as a byproduct of football’s pre-Sky era, realised that neither they or the players had to accept it.

It was a gradual process but its impact offered a glimpse of football’s potential to effect change. Legislation was ratified as a consequence and an attitudunal shift was slowly won. But even a fairweather follower of football can see that robbing one generation of racists of their visibility has not dissuaded the next from following suit.

While wider society has made significant inroads in combating racism over the past four decades, the efforts on the part of football authorities are lagging behind. This year is only a little more than a fortnight old, yet that has been time enough for the perennial scourges of discrimination and intolerance to creep through the cracks.

READ MORE: Former England and West Brom striker Cyrille Regis dies

Tyrone Mings, an articulate defender with Bournemouth in the English Premier League, has spoken out about the thousands of racist and derogatory comments he has received via social media, a trend he stresses is far from uncommon and which has targeted countless victims.

The problem is not confined to the ether. The Football Association, an institution whose credibility is in tatters following the Eni Aluko racism scandal, has taken the Brasso to its blazer buttons and pledged to investigate not one, but two allegations of racist remarks by players in the English top flight.

Here, in Scotland, Ally Love, a journeyman with League Two side, Clyde, has been charged with excessive misconduct by the Scottish FA after allegedly making racist comments to Annan’s Rabin Omar.

These are not isolated incidents. A report last autumn by Kick It Out, football’s anti-discrimination campaign, showed that over the 2016/17 season, it received 469 reports of abuse, nearly half related to race. A reflection of the febrile political climate, it is the highest tally of complaints on record.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent, Spartak Moscow, the most successful club side in the history of Europe’s most populous country, posted a tweet to its 694,000 followers at the weekend showing three black players training in sunny conditions. An accompanying annotation by the Moscow club’s resident wit billed it as “chocolates melting in the sun”.

Such an appalling slight will likely be the tip of the iceberg given the spectre of a supposed showpiece – the FIFA World Cup, which is being staged in Russia this summer. Concerns about abuse and racist violence in a host nation where black players are routinely subjected to monkey noises are longstanding, yet with less than five months to go before the world’s greatest sporting spectacle gets underway, it would be a shock were the tourney to pass without incident.

This is the bequest of a game stewarded by a meek and complicit governing body which, two years ago, disbanded its anti-racism task force on the basis it had “fulfilled” its mission. Who would have thought the lure of money and power would prove greater than the cause of social justice?

Whatever atrocities lie in wait, we can take solace in the knowledge that it is not the administrators who define our sporting culture. That role belongs to men like Cyrille Regis, who through the virtue of their own decency, revealed to us the transformative power of football.

What a shame it is that the game he did so much for has been so slow to honour his legacy.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Martyn McLaughlin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663193.1516135491!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663193.1516135491!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Cyrille Regis was a trailblazer who inspired generations of black footballers. Picture: PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cyrille Regis was a trailblazer who inspired generations of black footballers. Picture: PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663193.1516135491!/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/celtic/kris-commons-raises-fears-over-celtic-s-defence-for-europe-1-4663213","id":"1.4663213","articleHeadline": "Kris Commons raises fears over Celtic’s defence for Europe","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516168800000 ,"articleLead": "

Kris Commons has questioned Celtic’s transfer activity in the central defensive area of their squad and believes it could prompt a backlash from supporters if the Scottish champions flop in their Europa League tie against Zenit St Petersburg next month.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663212.1516137303!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kris Commons feels his former club Celtic look light at centre-half for their Europa League clash with Zenit. Pic: Roddy Scott/SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Celtic yesterday allowed Danish international Erik Sviatchenko to return to FC Midtjylland on loan for the rest of the season, while recent German recruit Marvin Compper cannot play against Zenit as he is cup-tied from his time at RB Leipzig.

It currently leaves Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers with three eligible central defenders for the Europa League in Dedryck Boyata, Jozo Simunovic – who has been linked with Burnley, Crystal Palace and Lazio this month – and teenager Kristoffer Ajer.

Former Celtic playmaker Commons is concerned at the limited options in a key area of the side.

“If Simunovic goes then another centre-half will be a must,” he said. “That is one of my main concerns as a Celtic supporter, the weakest part of the defence has been the centre-back position with the mistakes and people not playing to their ability at that level.

“I know Simunovic and Boyata are brilliant centre-halves but if they are not quite at their A-game, then you’re going to get found out. Ultimately the best players in Europe are usually the centre-forwards and they certainly found that out against Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich.

“Against Zenit, if the two of them are fit, they are more than capable of doing a job but if they don’t there will be more pressure and scrutiny put on Brendan Rodgers and the board for not investing in another centre-half.

“The league is pretty much wrapped up. Celtic don’t need a centre-half for the Premiership, they need one for Europe where they have a two-leg tie against a very good Russian team – and they’ve just signed a centre-half in Compper who isn’t eligible to play in these games.

“Erik has now gone, which has raised questions, Simunovic could go and is it worth playing a 19-year-old boy [Ajer] who was thrown into the game against Astana in Kazakhstan earlier in the season when they conceded four and it could have been ten?

“Brendan will be the first to say ‘This is what I need, this is what I’ve got.’ If he loses a player he will need someone. But spending money in this day and age, and I’m talking £20 million on a central defender, is difficult and he could still be bang average.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "STEPHEN HALLIDAY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663212.1516137303!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663212.1516137303!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Kris Commons feels his former club Celtic look light at centre-half for their Europa League clash with Zenit. Pic: Roddy Scott/SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kris Commons feels his former club Celtic look light at centre-half for their Europa League clash with Zenit. Pic: Roddy Scott/SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663212.1516137303!/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/rangers/stopping-10-in-a-row-is-the-big-thing-for-rangers-says-commons-1-4663216","id":"1.4663216","articleHeadline": "Stopping 10-in-a-row is the big thing for Rangers says Commons","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516168800000 ,"articleLead": "

Former Celtic midfielder Kris Commons believes winning the Scottish Cup would not give Rangers much momentum and that the Ibrox club’s main motivation is to stop their great rivals winning ten consecutive league titles.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663215.1516137883!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kris Commons thinks Rangers would get a lift from winning the William Hill Scottish Cup but doesn't think it would give them momentum. Picture: Roddy Scott/SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Rangers open their Scottish Cup campaign on Sunday with a fourth round tie at Highland League side Fraserburgh.

It is a competition which offers manager Graeme Murty a chance to press his claim for the job beyond the end of the season but Commons feels even claiming a piece of major silverware in May won’t solve the wider problems facing Rangers.

“Deep down they know they won’t win the league this season,” Commons said. “If they could win the cup, that would be a big coup.

“But I don’t see winning a cup will give them momentum. They need a long-term strategy. They tried to get a manager after seven weeks of chasing Derek McInnes and not getting him. They’ve had to give it to Murty because there is not anyone else. I don’t think they have the money or resources to get a big name like an Alan Pardew, when he was available. And the money they have invested in the squad –

£9.5 million – they have paid a lot of money in wages to a few foreign players. But they are now in a transition period where they will be looking to stop Celtic winning ten-in-a-row. No question. Whether they win a cup between now and that happening, stopping ten is the big thing for Rangers.

“They needed to do something in this transfer window and they’ve brought a few loans in. It’s funny how they’re going back to the British-based players, the ones who know about the league, Rangers, their rivalry with Celtic and the expectations of the club.

“Pedro Caixinha came in, signed all of those foreign players and gave them massive amounts of money and that certainly hasn’t paid off. Alfredo Morelos has done all right but I wouldn’t say he’s a natural goalscorer.

“Daniel Candeias started off slowly but has recently looked as though he might be a

player but when you look at Carlos Pena and big Bruno Alves, you can’t say that they’re worth the money that they’re getting.

“Hence they’re now going for tried and trusted British players who know a bit about it. There needs to be an understanding between Graeme Murty, the coaching staff and the players. I think the language barrier between the manager and some of the players played a big part earlier in the season.”

Kris Commons was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "STEPHEN HALLIDAY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663215.1516137883!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663215.1516137883!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Kris Commons thinks Rangers would get a lift from winning the William Hill Scottish Cup but doesn't think it would give them momentum. Picture: Roddy Scott/SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kris Commons thinks Rangers would get a lift from winning the William Hill Scottish Cup but doesn't think it would give them momentum. Picture: Roddy Scott/SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663215.1516137883!/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/gregor-townsend-resigned-to-losing-ben-vellacott-and-gary-graham-to-england-1-4663205","id":"1.4663205","articleHeadline": "Gregor Townsend resigned to losing Ben Vellacott and Gary Graham to England","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516141800000 ,"articleLead": "

Gregor Townsend is resigned to losing two Scottish-qualified players to England when his counterpart Eddie Jones confirms his Six Nations squad tomorrow.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663204.1516136926!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has announced a 40-man squad for the Six Nations. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU"} ,"articleBody": "

Speaking yesterday after naming his own 40-man group for the tournament, which opens with the game against Wales in Cardiff a week on Saturday, Townsend said that he won’t consider Gloucester scrum-half Ben Vellacott or Newcastle flanker Gary Graham, both former Scotland Under-20 players, with the expectation that they will join up with the England squad.

Stirling-born Graham, the 25-year-old son of former Scotland prop George, had already been included in an England training camp at the turn of the year but there 
was hope that 22-year-old 
Vellacott, whose mother is from Peterhead, might opt for Scotland.

Townsend appeared to have given up hope yesterday, though, and said: “Ben is someone we have talked to a lot over the last couple of seasons. I almost signed him at Glasgow. He came up for a couple of days but decided to stay at Gloucester.

“We have been in regular communication with him but again we will wait and see what squad England pick in the next couple of days but it looks likely he will be involved with them in the Six Nations.”

It may well have been a late call, with a clue being that yesterday’s media release listed the squad in alphabetical order, with the exception being scrum-half Nathan Fowles, who was the last back listed, perhaps where someone with a surname beginning with a V might have been?

Fowles is one of four uncapped players in the squad, along with young tighthead props Murray McCallum and D’Arcy Rae and Edinburgh full-back Blair Kinghorn.

Greig Laidlaw returns after missing nine of Scotland’s 11 Tests last year through injury and British and Irish Lions commitments, but flanker John Barclay remains as 
captain.

There are recalls for forwards Dave Denton, Scott Lawson, Gordon Reid and Jon Welsh after long absences from the international scene but no place for Harlequins wing Tim Visser, who was also left out of the autumn Test series.

Scotland are in no position to carp too much about losing Vellacott and Graham to 
England, having assimilated a vast number of foreign-born and raised players down the years. It is rather jolting, however, to have one of the big nations casting their rod in the Scottish pond.

The RFU’s English Qualified Player system sees clubs handsomely rewarded for fielding a matchday squad that is 70 per cent eligible for England, which is an obvious lure for those with dual options.

“It is unusual that a country like England, with all its resources and players, that players who have played age grade for Scotland are going into the England squad,” said Townsend. “But it is now the reality and probably in some ways can be seen as a positive that our players are attracting interest outside of Scotland.

“It is the players’ decisions. You can understand that if you are playing in England, you are in their system, whether that is through your club or the EQP, the pressures that are on each club, that you are maybe going to be watched more by the England coaches…

“I don’t like using the term ‘our players’, they are not ‘our players’, they played under-20s for us but they are dual qualified like a number of players are in the game.

“We are part of the United Kingdom as well as being Scotland/England so a lot are going to have parentage or will have moved down south at some stage so that they can play for other countries.”

Townsend said he wasn’t keen on resurrecting the A team as a vehicle for “capturing” players and tying them to Scotland.

“The only way you would look at adding a Scotland A [team] would be to help your preparations,” he said. “If you were doing it for cynical reasons, first I don’t think it is right, and the players would see through it.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DUNCAN SMITH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663204.1516136926!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663204.1516136926!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has announced a 40-man squad for the Six Nations. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has announced a 40-man squad for the Six Nations. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663204.1516136926!/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-jon-daly-hankers-for-management-but-will-bide-time-1-4663207","id":"1.4663207","articleHeadline": "Hearts’ Jon Daly hankers for management – but will bide time","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516141800000 ,"articleLead": "

Jon Daly insists his management career is very much a marathon rather than a sprint. After five games in interim charge of Hearts, the 35-year-old Dubliner remains eager to become his own man one day. For now, he is content to be a member of Craig Levein’s Riccarton backroom team.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663206.1516136955!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jon Daly enjoyed his brief stint in the Hearts hotseat earlier this season. Pic: Bruce White/SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Levein’s first act after resuming the Hearts manager’s chair last August was to promote Daly from youth coach to first-team coach after watching his four-game stewardship of the side. One previous match in charge in December 2016 means Daly has been in the hotseat five times, although he is in no immediate rush to increase that number.

Long-term, he definitely fancies a crack at being a manager. He likes devising training programmes, picking teams, dealing with the media and would like to sign his own players to shape his side. All of it will doubtless come in good time.

Daly is enjoying his new role, learning under an experienced manager and preparing for the day he steps from the back of the technical area to the front. That may well be at Tynecastle in the future, as he is highly regarded by Levein and the club hierarchy.

“You’d need to speak to the powers that be as it’s not my decision. I enjoyed the games I had last year and this year,” he said. “It’s given me the taste for management, whether it’s in two, three or four years’ time. I see it as a long career so there’s no rush to jump into the hotseat.

“If you jump in too early, you can be out again for a long time. I’m happy learning and taking things on board. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity somewhere down the line.

“I’m delighted with my own situation. I work closely with the manager, Liam Fox and Austin MacPhee. It’s an opportunity for me to continue working with first-team players. When I retired from playing, that’s what I wanted to do – work at first-team level. This gives me that platform to get that experience. This is a fantastic club to do that.”

Perhaps Daly’s caution stems from watching Ian Cathro’s travails at close quarters. The Irishman’s two caretaker spells bookended the Dundonian’s eight months in charge of Hearts. Cathro, pictured below, accepted the head coach’s job aged 30 but now finds himself unemployed.

Daly hasn’t yet thought about branching out. “If something had popped up, it’s a hypothetical question. You don’t know. I’m in no rush. I’m 35 and it’s a long career in football. There are managers in their 70s.

“Management is a longer career than playing so I’m in no rush to jump into just any job. I’m at a very good club that looks to develop young coaches. I’m in no rush to look anywhere else.”

Most responsibilities involved in management already come naturally to him, as he demonstrated whilst deputising as head coach. Even sleepless nights were welcomed. “I enjoy dealing with the players, the press, everything. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t thrive on it,” he explained. “I really enjoyed the whole experience although it was only four weeks. It was four weeks when you don’t switch off and you don’t really sleep.

“You think about all the permutations that could happen for a Saturday. That’s what I want to do so that’s what I’ll have to deal with as I go on. There wasn’t a lot of pressure on me. We weren’t in a great place back then but it was enjoyable.”

After overseeing a win, a draw and two defeats, Daly made way for Levein’s managerial return at the end of August. “I’ve known him a long time,” Daly added. “He took me to Dundee United as a player and I had a lot of respect for him as my manager up there. That’s continued here.

“Me, Andy Kirk, Liam Fox and all the boys below are in a good place where we can learn and see how a very good manager works. You can pick things up from him and see where it takes us.”

If you want to pick up passion and fire in the belly, Daly believes Levein is the ideal example. “We have seen it. It’s going to take him time but you see he has a passion for 
football.

“Go to Oriam on a Saturday or Sunday morning and he’s there watching under-11s and under-12s to see the kids coming through. He has the club’s best interests at heart and you see how much it means to him.

“On the sidelines, he’s starting to get a bit more animated – back to the scary Craig Levein we all know and love,” smiled Daly. “It’s easy to see he does care. It rubs off on everyone and makes the players ensure they do their jobs.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663206.1516136955!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663206.1516136955!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jon Daly enjoyed his brief stint in the Hearts hotseat earlier this season. Pic: Bruce White/SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jon Daly enjoyed his brief stint in the Hearts hotseat earlier this season. Pic: Bruce White/SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663206.1516136955!/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/cricket/michael-jones-is-strong-on-scotland-debut-but-irish-prevail-1-4663233","id":"1.4663233","articleHeadline": "Michael Jones is strong on Scotland debut but Irish prevail","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516138440000 ,"articleLead": "

A fine debut knock by Michael Jones went unrewarded yesterday as Scotland slumped to defeat against Ireland in Dubai.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663232.1516138437!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland batsman George Munsey in action for Grange. Picture: Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

Durham Academy youngster Jones hit 87 as his more experienced team-mates toiled against a testing Irish attack.

The Scots were dismissed for an under-par 219 before their old foes eased to a six-wicket victory, meaning Ireland have won six of the last seven ODIs between the sides.

Sent in to bat, Scotland were on the back foot when George Munsey, opening the batting in place of absent skipper Kyle Coetzer, was out for a duck.

But fellow opener Jones got the board ticking with some classy shots, although big partnerships eluded Scotland as a string of batsmen got out cheaply while Calum MacLeod (33) and Craig Wallace (34) failed to capitalise on promising starts.

Jones was eventually sixth out, bowled by Boyd Rankin, having faced 135 balls and stroked nine fours.

Fellow debutant Tom Sole attempted to hoist the tally to something more substantial with some lusty hitting in a 14-ball 20 but the Scottish total always looked light.

Hopes were briefly raised when Safyaan Sharif removed Will Porterfield for a duck in the first over but Andrew Balbirnie’s 67 from just 55 balls put Ireland firmly in charge.

Balbirnie was stumped by Wallace, giving a first international wicket to Sole who claimed another when Stuart Whittingham caught Paul Stirling.

Ireland refused to be derailed, though, and a run-a-ball half century from Niall O’Brien ended Scottish hopes.

Scotland coach Grant Bradburn admitted his side were punished for a slow start against a slick Irish unit.

He said: “We felt we got in some valuable game time today for all the players, including the new faces in our line-up.

“We didn’t quite have the positive intent we expect with the bat which, ultimately, resulted in us setting a total of 60-70 short of what we would have liked in the conditions.

“We found ourselves chasing the game from a sluggish start and we needed to bowl and field exceptionally well to win today.

“The bowling attack will all benefit from the game-time and we look forward to three more quality games here to help us find winning formulas before the World Cup 
Qualifiers.

“Michael Jones soaked up the experience of his first ODI for Scotland and will no doubt develop further on the back of posting an excellent score today. Tom Sole also made a solid start to his international career and will only kick on from his experiences so far.”

The sides meet again in the tri-nations series, also featuring hosts UAE, tomorrow.

Scotland’s World Cup qualifying rivals Afghanistan will play their inaugural Test against world No 1-ranked India in Bangalore from 14-18 June. India revealed last month that they would be the first Test opponents for Afghanistan, who along with Ireland have joined the International Cricket Council’s top table as full member nations.

The one-off Test could be an opportunity for 19-year-old leg-spin sensation Rashid Khan to pit his wits against the likes of India’s star batsmen Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara.

Meanwhile, India captain Kohli has been fined 25 per cent of his match fee after an angry outburst in his side’s second Test with South 
Africa.

Kohli was unhappy with the state of the ball during South Africa’s second innings after it appeared to get wet and following a discussion with umpire Michael Gough, the Indian threw the ball down in an aggressive manner.

Kohli has now been sanctioned by the ICC after breaching “conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game” and as a result loses part of his match fee and also receives one demerit point.

Chasing 287 to win, India finished day four on 35 for three.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "WILLIAM DICK"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663232.1516138437!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663232.1516138437!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland batsman George Munsey in action for Grange. Picture: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland batsman George Munsey in action for Grange. Picture: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663232.1516138437!/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/gregor-townsend-says-he-ll-wait-and-see-on-stuart-hogg-1-4663231","id":"1.4663231","articleHeadline": "Gregor Townsend says he’ll ‘wait and see’ on Stuart Hogg","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516138342000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend insists he is relaxed about the prospect of his star player, full-back Stuart Hogg, going into the opener against Wales with no matches under his belt since November.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663230.1516138337!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Stuart Hogg has been suffered hip and foot injuried. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

The back-to-back Six Nations man of the tournament picked up a hip injury during the autumn Tests and has a had a subsequent foot problem. His last opportunity to get some game time comes in Glasgow’s final European Champions Cup pool game at home to Exeter Chiefs on Saturday, but it is not certain that he will feature.

Townsend said: “We’ll wait and see. I know he’s back in full training. So it’s how he gets through this week and if Glasgow decide to play him or put him on the bench, or if they feel he’s not 100 per cent to play in the game.

“We got some good news about his foot just before the weekend, which allowed him to resume full training this week. His hip injury had not been an issue, he’d got over that two or three weeks ago.

“If he doesn’t play, we don’t see any issues with him getting back to full fitness. His first game after being out since the Lions was against Leinster and he was outstanding. The following week he played very well against Samoa.

“We’ll have two weeks’ build-up to that Wales game that will include some very tough sessions. So for guys like Stuart, Greig Laidlaw, Ryan Wilson, Tommy Seymour, who we believe will be back this week, it will be a chance to prove they are fit to play international rugby.”

The main back-up possibilities for Hogg come from either end of the experience spectrum in the shape of 32-times capped Ruaridh Jackson and Edinburgh youngster Blair Kinghorn, who turns 21 tomorrow and has earned a maiden call -up to the senior squad.

“This is his first involvement and its due to the great form he’s been in this season,” said Townsend.

“He was in line to be in our November squad due to the way he started this season. He did have a dip in form around October which put paid to that, but we think he’s played really well since that period.

“We know from speaking to the Edinburgh coaches that he has been really professional and diligent, and he’s getting the reward by producing consistently good performances for Edinburgh,” added Townsend.

“He’s very good in attack, he improved his defence, he’s got an all-round skill-set because he used to play stand-off, his kicking game is excellent, he’s got real potential to be a threat in the air given he is 6ft 5in, but his key strength is his speed – and his speed could give him opportunities somewhere in the back three other than just at full-back.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DUNCAN SMITH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663230.1516138337!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663230.1516138337!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Stuart Hogg has been suffered hip and foot injuried. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Stuart Hogg has been suffered hip and foot injuried. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663230.1516138337!/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/gregor-townsend-expects-scotland-to-embrace-six-nations-pressure-1-4663211","id":"1.4663211","articleHeadline": "Gregor Townsend expects Scotland to embrace Six Nations pressure","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516137287000 ,"articleLead": "

The first year of Gregor Townsend’s tenure as Scotland boss has entered its third, most challenging phase and he admitted yesterday that he can’t wait for the “tribal” extravaganza that is the Six Nations to get under way.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663210.1516137283!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has named his Six Nations squad. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU"} ,"articleBody": "

The first outing as head coach of the country he played for on 82 occasions came in the unlikely setting of Singapore as Italy were beaten at the start of the summer tour. Then came his first home game in charge against Samoa in the first of a thrilling autumn Test series, which also included a record-busting thumping of Australia and a performance to be proud off against the world champion All Blacks.

Now looms the chance to test himself in the world’s oldest tournament, which remains the highlight of the northern hemisphere rugby year.

“Yes and yes,” was Townsend’s response when asked if expectations were higher than they have been going into the tournament since his own playing days and whether that brought some pressure.

It is a pressure that the coach said he expects the players to embrace, while acknowledging the difficulty of a competition in which each game will require a monumental effort to win.

The Six Nations remains special, said Townsend, because of the intense but mostly friendly local rivalries and the tradition of large travelling supports turning each match into a weekend event.

For Scotland supporters over much of the last 18 years since Five became Six, the delights offered by some of Europe’s great capital cities have provided much-needed antidotes to the often traumatic showings on the field of play.

Townsend’s predecessor Vern Cotter began the process of rebuilding Scotland’s reputation in the tournament and, after the joyous flair of November, there is a real belief that there could be a chance of challenging this year for prizes of the non-wooden variety.

Depleted front-row options are an obvious worry, along with concerns about the back-up to the attacking fulcrums of stand-off Finn Russell and full-back Stuart Hogg, but the big story of Scotland’s progress in the past few years has been the welcome development of genuine strength in depth.

That was hammered home in the autumn when Scotland shrugged off an injury list which, in years past, would have had them struggling badly to field a team.

Away from the pressure points there are key positions, such as scrum-half, second row and centre, where there is an embarrassment of riches.

Greig Laidlaw, pictured, not long ago the first, immovable name on the teamsheet and undisputed leader, returns to the squad but knows even if he proves his fitness he is likely to be behind Glasgow livewire Ali Price and that the captaincy, for now, remains with John Barclay.

Laidlaw is on the verge of a comeback following three months out with a broken ankle and Townsend explained: “The plan for Greig is if everything goes well and he gets the all-clear from seeing a specialist in London he’ll join up with us on Sunday and then [his club] Clermont will decide he’s fit to play against Montpellier the week before the Wales game.”

Townsend revealed that Laidlaw would have resumed the captaincy in the autumn if it had not been for the injury picked up in a European game at Ospreys on the eve of the series. “He was in great form leading into November,” said the coach. “We understood it would be difficult going into a new environment in France with a different language but I was pleased with how he was playing. He would have had an opportunity with us in November. He would have been our captain. We obviously don’t know where he is yet until he comes back and plays. Our expectations are it will be tough for him to begin with just to get that match fitness. He’s been training well this week and let’s hope he gets back to his pre-injury form quickly.”

Given the situation, keeping Barclay in place as skipper was an easy and obvious decision. “John’s been a great captain for the team just as Greig Laidlaw was a great captain for the team before that,” said Townsend. “Greig was going to be captain for the summer tour and then got called up to the British and Irish Lions tour, and was then in line to be captain in the November Test series before he got injured – he obviously hasn’t played for around three months now so that’s a big part of why he wasn’t named as captain, but also the fact that John has done such a good job.

“If and when Greig comes back to full fitness – and we really hope it will be next weekend – we’ll have two players in the squad who have captained the team very well in the last few years.”

Townsend said that it would be highly unlikely that anyone outwith the 40-man group named yesterday would come into the squad for the first two games away to Wales and then home to France the following weekend but that may change ahead of the Calcutta Cup crunch on 24 February. “There are a few that we know will be out for the Six Nations, like Ross Ford.[Loosehead] Allan Dell I would say is unlikely to appear and the same with [tighthead] WP Nel. There are a few we hope will be back during the tournament, [loosehead prop] Darryl Marfo being one, [locks] Scott Cummings and Tim Swinson.

“With [hooker] Fraser Brown [who has suffered several concussions this season] we wait and see. We hope so. He’s seeing a specialist today, so we’ll know more information.”

The front-row injuries have opened the door for some to make what recently would have seemed like unlikely returns. The calls for Newcastle tighthead Jon Welsh and London Irish loosehead Gordon Reid were expected, the selection of 36-year-old Newcastle hooker Scott Lawson less so.

Lawson, pictured below, won the last of his 46 caps against Argentina in November 2014 but has been Aa member of the Newcastle side enjoying their best season for years in the Aviva Premiership.

“You mention his age, we like to call that experience,” said Townsend of Lawson. “And given that we are missing at the moment two hookers in Fraser Brown and Ross Ford who have played a lot of rugby for Scotland, and a couple of guys on either side of the hooker position who have also got a lot of experience, Scott’s experience we believe will really help us. The way Scott has played this season really fits with what we want to do with our game – he’s dynamic, he’s a low tackler and he’s got excellent setpiece accuracy.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DUNCAN SMITH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663210.1516137283!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663210.1516137283!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has named his Six Nations squad. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has named his Six Nations squad. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663210.1516137283!/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/gregor-townsend-scotland-will-just-have-to-deal-with-six-nations-injuries-1-4663075","id":"1.4663075","articleHeadline": "Gregor Townsend: Scotland will just have to deal with Six Nations injuries","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516124988000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has backed his makeshift front row to overcome a selection crisis ahead of the NatWest 6 Nations.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663073.1516124986!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend speaks to the press as he announces his squad for the Six Nations. Picture: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

READ MORE - Six Nations: Uncapped quartet named in Scotland squad

Townsend has included uncapped props Murray McCallum and D’arcy Rae in his 40-man squad along with Newcastle pair Scott Lawson and Jon Welsh, who are back after several years out of the reckoning.

Fraser Brown misses out after a series of concussions and Edinburgh prop Simon Berghan is suspended for Scotland’s opener against Wales on February 3 after being given a six-week ban for stamping on the Glasgow hooker’s head.

Zander Fagerson, WP Nel, Ross Ford, Allan Dell, Al Dickinson and Darryl Marfo are also missing from Townsend’s front-row options. Stuart McInally is likely to keep his place at hooker with George Turner as cover and London Irish prop Gordon Reid provides some experience with 27 caps to his name.

Townsend said: “Every country going into the Six Nations is going to have injuries. It’s something you deal with. We know we have a couple of injuries in the front row so it’s down to other players to go out there and play well with Scotland.”

When asked how much of a challenge it would be to get his front row up to speed for the Cardiff encounter, he said: “On paper it’s a challenge but we’ve got evidence from November that players did very well in training and they took that into the games. Darryl Marfo and Jamie Bhatti were uncapped going into November and both played very well.

“We have two uncapped players and it’s now up to them to show us they should be picked against Wales and, if they are, go and grab that opportunity. They have got some players around them that they can learn from, but we believe in them with the ability they have shown over the last few weeks.

“D’arcy we know better as a coaching group because we worked with him at Glasgow, Murray has really come to the fore in the last few weeks at Edinburgh because he has been given an opportunity there. They can take that form into the international arena.”

Hooker Lawson, 36, won the last of his 46 caps in 2014.

Townsend said: “Scott’s experience we believe will really help us, in the hooking department given George Turner just has a couple of caps, but also with the new guys coming in at loosehead and tighthead.

“In addition to that, the way Scott has played this season, really fits with what we want to do with our game. He is dynamic, he’s a low tackler, and he’s got excellent set-piece accuracy.”

Edinburgh backs Blair Kinghorn and Nathan Fowles complete a quartet of uncapped players while Townsend has a range of options not available to him during November.

Richie Gray, Mark Bennett, Duncan Taylor and Reid have all recently made comebacks from lay-offs while Greig Laidlaw is back in full training for Clermont Auvergne.

In-form Worcester forward David Denton is set for his first cap since 2016 after a series of injuries and Stuart Hogg is included after recovering from hip and foot injuries, although he has not featured since for Glasgow.

READ MORE - John Hardie trains after ban but must earn Edinburgh place back

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Gavin McCafferty"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663073.1516124986!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663073.1516124986!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend speaks to the press as he announces his squad for the Six Nations. Picture: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend speaks to the press as he announces his squad for the Six Nations. Picture: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663073.1516124986!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5701006688001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/tom-buchanan-relishing-biggest-week-of-career-in-abu-dhabi-1-4663070","id":"1.4663070","articleHeadline": "Tom Buchanan relishing biggest week of career in Abu Dhabi","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516124682000 ,"articleLead": "

Once the dense morning fog had lifted, it was easy to pick out Tom Buchanan on the range at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. On his 38th birthday, the former Duddingston assistant professional wore a smile as wide as the carriageways in the UAE as he prepared for the biggest week in his golfing career.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663069.1516133104!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tom Buchanan on the range at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Picture: Martin Dempster"} ,"articleBody": "

Thanks to winning a local qualifier, Buchanan is in the same field as the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It’s an exciting but daunting opportunity for the Stranraer man. “I’ve been coming to this event for six years as a spectator and have enjoyed sitting on the terrace on a Sunday having a beer,” Buchanan, who left Duddingston just under six years ago to take up a post as golf operations supervisor at Al Ain Golf Club and is now the head professional, told The Scotsman. “Now I’m pegging it up on Thursday morning (in the company of England’s Paul Waring and Ricardo Gouevia of Portugal). It’s what we all dream about as professional golfers...that one chance to mix it up with the big boys and the big boys are definitely here this week.”

For Buchanan, making the cut is the goal and the former East of Scotland Alliance champion is hoping some advice offered by Stephen Gallacher during a nine-hole practice round earlier in the week can be helpful in that respect. “That was great as I picked his brains and got a feel for being around these world-class players, which is a bit of a step up from a PGA medal out here,” admitted Buchanan, pictured. “It’s a case of trying to control everything and treating it as a PGA medal. I think that’s the hardest bit.

“But what’s the worst thing that can happen to me this week? Missing the cut, that’s it. I’ve made it here and playing in an event that a lot of very good players can’t even get in.

“Stevie said that I shouldn’t push things as you don’t have to take everything on. The greens are so good that you can hit it in the middle of the greens and hole putts. He also said that I should be looking at laying up short of certain bunkers at some of the par 5s instead of going for the green.

“He was really good. He said the same as a couple of others boys, that I should just go out and play my own game and not worry about anyone or anything else. If I can do that, then hopefully my game is good enough to make the cut.”

Buchanan is playing a course he knows well, though it is set up a lot harder for this week’s European Tour event. “This is a proper golf course,” he added. “It’s a course where if you drive it well you can really get it going. The rough is juicy and the course is tighter than I’ve seen it in the six years I’ve been here. If you drive it well, you have a chance to score.

“For me, it’s about trying to keep it play and make as few mistakes as possible. I’m probably going to have to play 33 holes of my golf to make the cut. If I do that, then great. If not, it will still be an unbelievable experience.”

Buchanan will have some familiar faces, including his former boss Alastair McLean, willing him to do well. “Alastair is flying out and my brother-in-law, Gregor Munro, is coming with him,” he said. “I’ve also got a couple of old members flying in from London and I think we’ve got a couple of buses coming up from the club on Friday.

“It’s going to be pretty mental and I’m just going to try and enjoy it as much as I can. It’s going to be a great week and I’m really looking forward to it.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "MARTIN DEMPSTER"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663069.1516133104!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663069.1516133104!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tom Buchanan on the range at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Picture: Martin Dempster","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tom Buchanan on the range at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Picture: Martin Dempster","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663069.1516133104!/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/rangers/done-deal-rangers-complete-loan-signing-of-russell-martin-1-4662779","id":"1.4662779","articleHeadline": "Done deal: Rangers complete loan signing of Russell Martin","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516122978000 ,"articleLead": "

Rangers have completed the loan signing of Russell Martin on loan from Norwich City, his parent club have confirmed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662778.1516111295!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Russell Martin arrives at Glasgow Airport ahead of a medical with Rangers. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

READ MORE - Russell Martin open to loan deal with Rangers

The 32-year-old Scotland international has not featured for the Sky Bet Championship side since August and has become Graeme Murty’s fourth signing as Rangers manager following the loan arrivals of Sean Goss, Jamie Murphy and Jason Cummings.

Murty knows the defender well from his time as a youth coach at Carrow Road and the Canaries are happy for Martin to leave the club on loan during this window.

Martin started his career with hometown club Brighton and Hove Albion, but left the Seagulls by mutual consent towards the end of 2004, joining Lewes on a short-term basis.

After a trial spell with Charlton Athletic, Martin joined Wycombe Wanderers in 2004, spending four years at Adams Park and scoring five goals in 142 appearances, before joining Peterborough United in 2008.

Despite making 46 apeparances in his first season with The Posh, Martin spent time on loan at Norwich City the following season, before joining the Canaries on a permanent deal in January 2010.

He made more than 300 appearances for Norwich in all competitions, scoring 17 goals.

READ MORE - Rangers to complete loan deal for Russell Martin

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANGUS WRIGHT"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4662778.1516111295!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662778.1516111295!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Russell Martin arrives at Glasgow Airport ahead of a medical with Rangers. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Russell Martin arrives at Glasgow Airport ahead of a medical with Rangers. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4662778.1516111295!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1500647074939"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/europe-have-full-faith-in-thomas-bjorn-for-ryder-cup-1-4663013","id":"1.4663013","articleHeadline": "Europe have ‘full faith’ in Thomas Bjorn for Ryder Cup","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516122850000 ,"articleLead": "

Tommy Fleetwood insists Europe’s players will have “full faith” in captain Thomas Bjorn when they try to win back the Ryder Cup in France later this year.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663012.1516134576!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tommy Fleetwood shows off the Seve Ballateros Awatd, the players' player of the year prize on the European Tour. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Great Dane Bjorn got off to a winning start as European skipper when his team produced a strong last-day singles display to claim victory in the EurAsia Cup in Malaysia last weekend.

Fleetwood, last year’s Race to Dubai winner, played his part in that success with three wins out of three in Kuala Lumpur and the Englishman gave Bjorn’s leadership style a big thumbs up.

“I think he has a great way about him as a captain,” said Fleetwood, speaking in the build up to his title defence in this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“He’s very deliberate and controlled. When he speaks, he’s got a great amount of compassion but motivation at the same time. For us, it was a pleasure to play for him.”

Bjorn’s next task will be to try and reclaim the Ryder Cup after Europe suffered a first defeat in the biennial encounter when suffering a 17-11 defeat at Hazeltine in 2016.

“I thought he did a great job last week,” added Fleetwood, who is a strong contender to make his first appearance against the Americans at Le Golf National in Paris.

“He has a very strong way about him and he’s going to do a great job in September. Whoever the team is, I think we have full faith our captain to do the right job.”

Henrik Stenson was also part of the team that came from behind heading into the final session at Glenmarie Golf & Country Club to retain the EurAsia Cup, which is effectively Europe’s warm up for the Ryder Cup.

“I now know there’s certainly a lot of guys - Matt Fitzpatrick in particular - who are better at playing (computer game) FIFA than I am,” joked the Swede when asked who in particular had impressed him in a team environment in Malaysia.

“You never know what the future holds in terms of Ryder Cups, but you’re going to see a number of players that were in Malaysia teeing it up in France so it was certainly a chance for Thomas to try out some pairings.”

Stenson also revealed that the stands around the first tee at Le Golf National are going to be considerably bigger than at Gleneagles in 2014, the last home match for the Europeans.

“I think it was 1,500 seats at Gleneagles and that was rather good. So, if you triple of quadrauple that, it is going to be nothing short of fantastic,” said the 2016 Open champion of getting a sneaky peek at the grandstand plans for this year’s event.

Meanwhile, Fleetwood admitted that winning the Seve Ballesteros Award had probably even eclipsed his feat in topping the European Tour Order of Merit last season.

“It’s actually made me the most emotional out of them all,” said the Englishman after receiving the circuit’s players’ player of the year prize. “It is very flattering and very humbling.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "MARTIN DEMPSTER"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663012.1516134576!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663012.1516134576!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tommy Fleetwood shows off the Seve Ballateros Awatd, the players' player of the year prize on the European Tour. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tommy Fleetwood shows off the Seve Ballateros Awatd, the players' player of the year prize on the European Tour. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663012.1516134576!/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/premiership/what-rangers-will-be-getting-in-new-signing-jason-cummings-1-4663005","id":"1.4663005","articleHeadline": "What Rangers will be getting in new signing Jason Cummings","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516121735000 ,"articleLead": "

The former Hibs striker has joined the Ibrox side on loan from Nottingham Forest until the end of the season, with an option to purchase the player outright after that. Craig Fowler gives his take on the deal

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663004.1516121731!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jason Cummings found the back of the net regularly for Hibs in the Scottish Championship. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

READ MORE - Kris Boyd accuses Rangers of ‘unsettling clubs with derisory offers’

This is undoubtedly a good signing. Rangers have been crying out for quality depth in reserve up front, someone who can rise from the bench and change the course of a match in an instant. Eduardo Herrera may be a Mexican international, but in Scottish football he’s yet to looked quick enough, both in terms of mobility and speed of thought, to be another other than an expensive flop. Cummings, meanwhile, knows the game up here like the back of his hand and has already excelled in its environment before.

Whether it becomes a great signing depends on a couple of factors. Firstly, he’ll have to prove to everyone that he can be a regular goalscorer in the top tier in the same manner he was in the Scottish Championship. Unless you count the 2014 play-off final, he’s still to score in the Premiership, with his only experience being a run of games towards the end of Hibs’ ill-fated 2013/14 relegation season. In the English Championship with Forest, he netted only once in the league and three times in the EFL Cup.

Cummings is a little different to Alfredo Morelos, though they are both goalscorers. The former doesn’t contribute an awful lot to the attack outside of the penalty area. So if he’s not scoring regularly he likely won’t keep his place in the team. Fortunately for Rangers, his record in front of goal against Premiership sides while still a lower league player with Hibs would indicate that he’ll have little problem finding the net during his loan spell. And, regrettable as it is to say, the English second tier is probably a higher standard than the Scottish top flight. What’s more, unlike at Forest, he’ll be playing on one of the stronger teams in the division and, as a result, there should be plenty of opportunities coming his way.

READ MORE - Kris Commons: ‘Naughty’ Jason Cummings can fire Rangers to next level

The other factor is his place in the team. After signing for Rangers, Cummings predicted that he and Morelos would be able to form a strong partnership. He’s right to an extent. While there’s a lack of height in that duo, Morelos is fairly skilled at holding the ball up and will happily drop deep to link with the midfield. When he’s doing that, Cummings will stay up top, looking to make a run in behind and pushing the opposing defence deep towards their own goal.

However, there still remains a doubt as to whether the current Rangers squad possesses the players to make a 4-4-2 system work. Earlier in the season, Graham Dorrans and Ryan Jack occupied the roles, but would often have to sit quite deep in order to try and protect the defence, with mixed results. In such a set-up it would be Jamie Murphy or Josh Windass on the left and Daniel Candeias on the right: two attacking wingers. At least with the Rangers team earlier in the season they had Kenny Miller haring around the park, putting pressure on opponents in possession. Swap Miller for Cummings with the similar personnel around them, and there’s a danger that the midfield pair in the centre would be overrun.

There is the option of the diamond in midfield, but that would leave Candeias without a space in the starting XI. Statistically speaking, the Portuguese winger has been the most creative player in the league this season, and surely someone you’d want in the side if you’ve just signed a ruthless goalscorer. A 3-5-2 would present the same problem, as James Tavernier is player they wouldn’t want to drop. There’s a lot to consider for manager Graeme Murty.

As for the deal itself, while the seemingly rearranged loan for Murphy may have raised some eyebrows, the way this signing is structured makes perfect sense. Cummings represents more of a gamble. If he doesn’t fit into the team, they have the option of saying goodbye in the summer. If he does pick up where he left off at Easter Road, they can sign him for an agreeable fee.

In the meantime, he gives Murty something he hasn’t had at Rangers to this point. When the Light Blues are struggling, down by a goal in the final 20 minutes of play, he can look across his bench and find a forward capable of making an instant impact. Whether it’s Morelos, Cummings or Murphy, it doesn’t matter. They now have some real strength in depth. Even if that’s all this signing becomes, the Cummings deal will still be worth it.

READ MORE - Arthur Numan applauds Rangers’ decision to go native

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CRAIG FOWLER"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4663004.1516121731!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4663004.1516121731!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jason Cummings found the back of the net regularly for Hibs in the Scottish Championship. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jason Cummings found the back of the net regularly for Hibs in the Scottish Championship. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4663004.1516121731!/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/cyrille-regis-the-gentle-giant-who-braved-it-all-1-4662282","id":"1.4662282","articleHeadline": "Cyrille Regis: The gentle giant who braved it all","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516120876000 ,"articleLead": "

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662281.1516120874!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cyrille Regis in full flow for West Bromwich Albion"} ,"articleBody": "

was standing on the Birmingham Road end of The Hawthorns, home of West Bromwich Albion, with a friend and 
fellow sufferer. It was our usual spot for home games, but this day – 3 September, 1977– proved far from usual.

It was the day I first saw a player who became my all-time hero – and a man who was to emerge as more than just a footballer.

Cyrille Regis, who has died of a heart attack, aged just 59, helped to change the face of the game forever, and, although no-one fully appreciated it at the time, helped heal the wounds of racial division.

Regis – a colossus of a centre forward – had been signed from Isthmian League side Hayes for £5,000 in the summer of 1977after a recommendation from Ronnie Allen, the striker who had led Albion to FA Cup glory in 1954.

So convinced was Allen of Regis’s talent that he told Albion he would pay the fee himself if the notoriously miserly club refused to meet the asking price.

Allen, Albion manager by the start of the 1977 season after the sudden departure of Johnny Giles, played Regis for the first time in a League Cup tie against Rotherham in midweek. Regis scored twice.

Now he faced Middlesborough in the First Division. Boro had just signed striker Billy Ashcroft, making his debut, from Wrexham amid much fanfare, but it was Regis 
who took to the top flight with aplomb, scoring one of the most memorable goals witnessed at The Hawthorns.

Even now, 40 years on, I can still conjure the moment from my memory, Regis taking possession on the halfway line, shrugging off two – or was it four? – Boro players and unleashing a shot into the top-right corner of the visitors’net.

I looked at my friend. He looked at me. Regis had arrived, and, from that point, Big Cyrille never ventured far from the hearts of the 
Albion support.

When Ron Atkinson succeeded Allen in 1978, he introduced a third black player, Brendon Batson, to the two already at the club, Regis and Laurie Cunningham, and the Three Degrees were born.

Until Cunningham’s departure to Real Madrid a year later, the first British player to make the journey to the Bernabeu, the Albion’s black trio propelled the club to the upper reaches of the English game, finishing third in the First Division and reaching the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Regis went on to score 112 goals for Albion in a professional career spanning 19 years, making 614 appearances for West Brom and other clubs, including Coventry City (with whom he won the FA Cup in 1987), Aston Villa, Wycombe Wanderers, Chester City and Doncaster Rovers. He seemed almost indestructible on the park, but his impressive physique and his ability in the air belied a deftness of touch and lightning speed. He was the complete striker.

Named the PFA’s Young Player of the Year for 1978, Regis became just the third black England international as he followed in the footsteps of Viv Anderson and Cunningham – the first black player to represent England at under-21 level – winning the first of five senior caps against Northern Ireland in February 1982.

Yet, for all that, it is not Regis’s prowess on the football field that he is remembered for, but how he dealt with the climate of racial abuse in which he played.

Born in the rural town of Maripasoula in French Guiana in February 1958, Regis moved with his family to west London at the age of five to a city where families seeking housing would often be greeted by signs which read: “No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs.”

For Regis, the prejudice of others was never far away. When called up by England, he revealed in his autobiography, My Story, how he received a bullet in the post. He wrote: “Clearly someone didn’t approve of my selection because they had cut out individual letters from a newspaper and stuck them on a sheet of paper to spell out a message that read, ‘If you put your foot on our Wembley turf, you’ll get one of these through your knees’.

“I looked back into the envelope and there was a cotton wool pad wrapped round something. I took it out, opened it up and there it was. A bullet staring up at me.”

The terrace abuse all black players received at the time was terrifying. The National Front were often a menacing presence at football grounds, and bananas were routinely thrown in the players’ direction.

It was a febrile atmosphere in which they plied their trade, but Regis did it with a dignity that left a lasting impression on me and many others of my generation. He never publicly moaned about the abuse, and, outwardly at least, refused to let it show that it meant anything at all to him. Indeed, Albion’s black v white benefit game for Len Cantello in 1979 – the black side was captained by Regis – was an indication of the players’ determination 
that the colour of your skin didn’t matter, whatever anyone else might think.

Regis was a gentleman on the pitch and off it. This tribute from Scot Ally Robertson, pictured, a long-time friend of Regis after playing alongside him in the Albion team of the 1970s, sums up perfectly the esteem in which he was held by all who knew him. “It’s impossible to describe how I felt when I was told the news this morning – I feel so sorry for his wife Julia and everyone he has left behind. Cyrille was a true great. We used to call him a gentle giant, he was the ultimate gentleman. I used to say he was too gentle, that is how great he was.”

Born into a Christian family, Regis turned to his faith again as an adult after the death of close friend Cunningham in a car crash in July 1989, two years after the pair had walked away from a similar accident. Regis was also a trustee for Christians in Sport, and of his nephew Jason Roberts’ Foundation, and worked as an ambassador for international charity Wateraid.

Regis was made an MBE in 2008 for his contribution to football 
and his services to the voluntary sector.

For me, though, he will for ever be one of the players who helped bridge the racial divide. The emergence of black footballers like Regis goes a long way to explaining why the area where I grew up – the West Midlands – did not explode in the racial violence predicted in the notorious Rivers of Blood speech delivered by Enoch Powell in 1968. The simple truth is that you cannot hate your heroes. And if your heroes are black and you are white, therein lies the seeds of understanding.

Regis was certainly one of the catalysts to more accepting times and the light by which many more black footballers made the transition into professional football. His passing came as a devastating blow yesterday, but his life should be celebrated. He made a difference, and how many of us can say that?

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "PAUL GREAVES"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4662281.1516120874!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662281.1516120874!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Cyrille Regis in full flow for West Bromwich Albion","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cyrille Regis in full flow for West Bromwich Albion","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4662281.1516120874!/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/challenge-cup/john-hardie-trains-after-ban-but-must-earn-edinburgh-place-back-1-4662290","id":"1.4662290","articleHeadline": "John Hardie trains after ban but must earn Edinburgh place back","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516115607000 ,"articleLead": "

Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill says John Hardie will have to earn his spot back in the playing squad and is unlikely to be involved in this Saturday’s trip to face Stade Francais in Paris.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662289.1516115604!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Hardie during a training session. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU"} ,"articleBody": "

The 29-year-old Scotland flanker was handed a three-month suspension in October for gross misconduct and has been back in training since the turn of the year. His playing ban is up this week but Cockerill suggested he will most likely be released to his draft allocated club, Hawick, this weekend.

“John has been training well. I would think it unlikely that he will be involved this weekend because he hasn’t played for 14 weeks,” said the coach. “We’ll see what happens. He may play club rugby this weekend and get some time under his belt; we haven’t decided on that one yet.

“I could have brought him straight back. He could do it. But I could bring Luke Crosbie straight back as well, and he hasn’t been suspended for three months. You have to reward the guys who have been here doing their jobs.

“I’ll pick what I think is the best back row and John Hardie has to work his way back in.”

Cockerill denied that New Zealand-born Hardie, who has 16 caps, still had a period of unofficial parole to serve before being fully integrated back into the squad.

“Not at all. John has no more right to play in the side than Luke Crosbie or Lewis Carmichael, Magnus Bradbury, Viliame Mata or anyone,” he said.

“John is a good player and he will come back into the team when it’s right. But for this squad to have a sound work ethic guys have to work themselves back in. For the moment, John will sit in and around fifth/sixth choice because of the situation that has been well documented.”

Edinburgh’s job in Pool 4 of the European Challenge Cup is done following last Friday’s dramatic 34-33 win over the French side, which secured top spot and a home quarter-final. The issue of achieving a high seeding to boost chances of a home semi in the event of success in the last eight is also moot as there is a different system to the Champions Cup.

Nevertheless, Cockerill says Edinburgh will respect the competition and travel to the French capital with purpose.

“We’ll look after our squad but it will be a good team,” he said. “Being one of the top two seeds doesn’t guarantee a home semi-final because of the way it’s formatted. If you are an away quarter-finalist and you win you get a home semi.

“We’ll pick a good team and go there to try to win. It’s another experience for us to get right. We’ve had a big win and we need to try and back that up. If Stade win with a bonus they will put themselves in a position to qualify. It will be a good test for us.”

Cockerill is expecting a good chunk of his players to be named in Gregor Townsend’s Six Nations squad this morning and knows that is just the lot of a club coach.

“I want lads to play for their countries, whether that’s Scotland or Fiji or whoever,” he said. “That’s what guys want to do. There are some front-row issues and Scotland will go quite far down the pecking order and that will affect our squad, but I’m pleased for the guys. They work hard and they want to play for their country.

“If I think players are of the right quality then I’ll support that. Three months ago Blair Kinghorn wasn’t ready for Test match rugby, but he has probably worked hard enough and played well enough to get an opportunity.

“I will champion the causes of the guys who deserve it. If guys aren’t quite ready I will say so – as I have.

“What I want is for Edinburgh as a team to improve and for the players to have an environment to get better. That will push the international side.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DUNCAN SMITH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4662289.1516115604!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662289.1516115604!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "John Hardie during a training session. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Hardie during a training session. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4662289.1516115604!/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/celtic/reports-suggest-celtic-could-move-for-sunderland-midfielder-jack-rodwell-1-4662784","id":"1.4662784","articleHeadline": "Reports suggest Celtic could move for Sunderland midfielder Jack Rodwell","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516110656000 ,"articleLead": "

Celtic could snap up Sunderland’s Jack Rodwell after the player was told he no longer had a future at the Stadium of Light.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662782.1516110652!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jack Rodwell featuring for Sunderland in a friendly against Livingston earlier this season. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

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According to the Sunderland Echo, Celtic were interested in a loan move for the player last summer but failed to agree terms on how much of his wages they would pay.

Though personal terms may still be an issue with Rodwell earning £70,000 per week, there would be no transfer fee required with Sunderland happy to offload the player on a permanent deal for nothing.

The English Championship side are hoping that the former England international would be willing to take a pay cut to sign for another club, where he could find regular first-team football.

Rodwell’s career has stalled since leaving Everton for Manchester City in a £12million deal in 2012. He has featured on three times for the first-team this season.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "COLIN STEWART"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4662782.1516110652!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662782.1516110652!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jack Rodwell featuring for Sunderland in a friendly against Livingston earlier this season. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jack Rodwell featuring for Sunderland in a friendly against Livingston earlier this season. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4662782.1516110652!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5650164701001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}