The Rumour Mill: Friday’s football news and gossip

In today’s Rumour Mill: Neil Lennon keen to tie down Celtic stars; Rangers furious over Mad Men portrayal; Derek Riordan finds a club; plus the rest of the day’s football news and gossip.

Celtic open contract talks with star performers

Celtic have begun contract negotiations with five first-team players after the board agreed to back Neil Lennon’s outlook. James Forrest, Gary Hooper, Victor Wanyama, Adam Matthews and Charlie Mulgrew are only one year into their deals but have already been offered extensions. Lennon, who is hopeful of having deals agreed in the next month, said: “In time it will be difficult to stop these younger players from moving on, but while they are here we want to make them feel wanted and rewarded for what they have done on the pitch.” (Express)

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Rangers complain over BBC’s Mad Men sequence

Rangers have lodged a formal complaint with the BBC over the opening sequence to their coverage of Wednesday night’s Scottish Communities League Cup tie against Motherwell. The Sportscene programme began with an animated montage, based on American television show Mad Men’s own opening credits, which the Ibrox club has branded “tasteless”. A statement on the club’s website read: “The Light Blues have today been inundated with emails and phone calls from supporters who are – rightly, in our opinion – furious with the way the programme began. It started with an animated montage which depicted a Rangers official, clearly manager Ally McCoist, falling from an office window at Ibrox and smashing a club crest.” (Various)

Lennon would welcome Rangers draw

Neil Lennon insists he would be happy if Celtic were to draw Rangers in the Scottish Communities League Cup draw, but stressed that he is confident no matter who the opposition is. The Celtic boss said: “A game like that is good for the game at any time. I would welcome it, if that’s who we draw. But I would welcome Dundee United, if that’s who we draw. Or Inverness, or St Mirren,” he said. Asked if he would fancy going to Ibrox for next month’s quarter-final, he didn’t hesitate offering up: “Yes, I’d take this team anywhere.” (Scotsman)

Sandaza out for rest of year

Rangers expect to be without Francisco Sandaza for the rest of the year following confirmation he has suffered a broken cheekbone. The striker was forced out of Wednesday night’s Scottish Communities League Cup win over Motherwell after a clash of heads with Shaun Hutchinson and was taken from Ibrox to hospital for an X-ray. (Scotsman)

McGowan talks not an issue - Hearts boss

Ryan McGowan has shown no sign of being distracted despite prolonged negotiations with Hearts over a new contract, John McGlynn has said. The Tynecastle manager was responding to claims by the player’s agent, Lou Sticca, that an initial offer of a new deal was “demeaning” and that there had been no movement by the club over the past month. (Scotsman)

Riordan finds a club

Former Hibernian and Celtic forward Derek Riordan has signed a three-month contract with English League Two outfit Bristol Rovers. Riordan, 29, has been without a club since his short stint at St Johnstone finished at the end of last season. He has been training with Blackpool, MK Dons and most recently Ross County. (Scotsman)

IN BRIEF

• Motherwell defender Jonathan Page has joined neighbours Hamilton Accies on a month’s loan. The 22-year old has found himself behind Shaun Hutchinson, Simon Ramsden and Adam Cummins in the battle for a centre-back spot this season. (Scotsman)

• Alloa have signed French striker Noel Makombo-Eboma as an amateur to avoid a £200,000 bill for his development at French clubs Beauvais and Sochaux. (Record)

• Ross County have put striker Kurtis Byrne and goalkeeper Joe Malin up for loan to play more football. (Express)

• Berwick Rangers have signed former Aberdeen youngster Dean Carse, 18. (Express)