Rumour Mill: Gordon: Hoops will prevail over Jambos | Rodgers quashes Griffiths rumours | Naismith hints at longer Hearts stay

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In today’s Scotsman Rumour Mill: Brendan Rodgers is keen to pour cold water on rumours surrounding Leigh Griffiths; Celtic keeper Craig Gordon says the Parkhead side will prevail against his old club Hearts; Steven Naismith says he won’t be returning to Norwich, sparking hopes among Jambos fans that he could be staying put in Edinburgh.

Brendan Rodgers keen to pour cold water on Leigh Griffiths AWOL rumours

Craig Gordon has heaped praise on the current Hearts side but still believes Celtic will win. Picture: TSPL

Craig Gordon has heaped praise on the current Hearts side but still believes Celtic will win. Picture: TSPL

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers has moved to clarify the truth behind the absence of Leigh Griffiths.

The striker has not been in touch with the club since Monday, according to some unverified reports, leading to much speculation online.

But Rodgers insists Griffiths - who has also been suffering from illness - had kept in regular communication during his enforced absence.

Rodgers said: “He hasn’t been well. He didn’t go away with the international team, then he got injured and then he has been ill for a number of days now.

“I spoke to Leigh when we trained at Murrayfield (on Tuesday) to check in how he was. He’s been ill so he’s been kept away from the squad.”

(Various)

Craig Levein: Revamped Hearts team can go toe to toe with Celtic

Craig Levein insists Hearts can go toe to toe with Celtic at BT Murrayfield tomorrow because they now have players to compete with the treble winners in every department.

The Hearts manager said: “I feel our team last season, when we beat Celtic, was based on running, energy and pressing. We are different this year. A lot of the players we had last season could do that but could not do other things. This time we have better players who can do better things with the ball. It means we might have it a little bit more or longer than was the case last season.” (Edinburgh Evening News)

Craig Gordon: Hearts side as good as 05/06, but my Celtic will still win

Celtic keeper Craig Gordon has said the current Hearts crop of players could be every bit as good as the team he played in at Tynecastle during the 2005/06 season.

That season saw the Jambos finish second in the league and lift the Scottish Cup, despite a host of off the field problems related to tensions between management and then club owner Vladimir Romanov.

Gordon believes the current Hearts side are every bit as capable, but still expects the Hoops to prevail when the two teams clash at Murrayfield on Sunday. (The Herald)

Steven Naismith reveals his thoughts on permanent Hearts move

Loan star Steven Naismith has hinted at the possibility of staying at Hearts in the long term.

The striker, who is loan from English side Norwich City, said he knows returning down south is not an option. He said: “I don’t think so. As a club, they’ve moved on – and they’re flying as well, which is good to see. There has been a big change there. I am, unfortunately, part of the past there.” (Edinburgh Evening News)

Graeme Shinnie: Aberdeen will do talking on pitch at Hampden

Graeme Shinnie insists that he’s not concerned about the Red Army being vastly outnumbered at Hampden Park on Sunday as it’s what happens on the park that really counts.

He said: “I don’t think it’s a case of much of an advantage. We just hope that however many of our fans are there get right behind us.” ​

(The Scotsman)

Efe Ambrose tips Ryan Porteous to force himself into Scotland set-up

Efe Ambrose has tipped his Hibs defensive sidekick Ryan Porteous to force his way into the full Scotland set-up.

Ambrose told the Evening News: “He’s playing with a lot of experienced players at Hibs and he’s learning very well. In a couple of years he’s going to be a big player for the Scotland national team.”

(Edinburgh Evening News)