Rumour Mill: Zlatan | Celtic | Hibs- Hearts

In today’s Rumour Mill: Celtic target goal scorers in January; McCoist bemoans Old Firm financial gulf; Edinburgh derby to honour tragic youngsters; plus the rest of the latest gossip from the SPFL

Rangers manager Ally McCoist. Picture: Robert Perry
Rangers manager Ally McCoist. Picture: Robert Perry

Goal scoring top of Lennon’s shopping list

Celtic’s search for a goal scorer looks to resume when the transfer opens in January. Neil Lennon is believed to have watched AZ Alkmaar recently to assess the Dutch club’s US international striker Aron Johannsson.

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“We are looking but we’ve not pushed the button on anyone yet,” Lennon said. “You know what January is like. Every day a new name will come forward.

But we have plenty of options and we would hope to come out of January with a stronger squad than the one we went into it with.”

Lennon has also been linked with a move for Dundee United’s Stuart Armstrong but appears to have reservations about signing young Scottish talent. “You’re always wary that they play well at a certain club and they come here to a different environment with different pressure they’re not used to,” Lennon said. “You don’t just look at their ability but their mental strength as well.”

Meanwhile, Lennon has yet to make a call on Japanese trialist Hiroki Yamada. “He’s still in the mix,” said the manager. (Various)

No box office deal for Celts

Neil Lennon will not be making any big time loan signings when the transfer window opens next week. The Celtic gaffer believes a box office deal will not serve any purpose as he looks to build a side for the future.

Celtic have often brought in a headline grabbing star, with the likes of Roy Keane, Robbie Keane, Craig Bellamy and Freddie Ljungberg all arriving to fanfares. But, even with interest waning from Celtic fans in their team’s march to a likely third straight championship, a bums-on-seats temporary addition is not on the cards.

“I don’t want to bring in any players like that because it won’t serve any purpose going forward,” said Lennon. “Any player we do bring in I would like to be permanent.” (Various)

McCoist worries about Old Firm financial gap

The Rangers boss, still counting the cost of the financial position his club find themselves in, has accepted that the Ibrox club will likely have a tough time competing with Celtic.

“The worry is Celtic are off and running with the Champions League money,” McCoist accepted. “That’s obviously a big concern. It would be wrong for me not to look at Celtic’s finances and not appreciate the gulf between the two, but what we need to do is concentrate on our own club at the minute. Celtic aren’t an issue for us at the moment. They’ve handled things well and fair play to them, but until we’re back competing against them then that’s when we’ll have to assess the situation. At this moment in time we can’t concern ourselves with Celtic. I don’t mean that in a rude way but they’re in a different place from us at the moment.”

Last week, Rangers chief executive Graham Wallace admitted that it would be a five-year mission to make the current Rangers competitive in the top flight. Wallace stated that Rangers would need to live within their means. McCoist interpreted this as a top-flight Rangers operating with a £3 million playing budget while Celtic worked with ten times this figure. (Scotsman)

Morton keen on ex-Hibs striker Garry O’Connor

Greenock Morton have invited Garry O’Connor to train with them as he looks to get his career back on track. The former Hibs and Birmingham front-man will train with the Cappielow side under new boss Kenny Shiels.

Morton assistant manager David Hopkin - on media duties as a result of Shiels completing a two-match touchline ban - said: “The new gaffer’s dealing with the players coming in and I think he’s probably got three or four lined up to come in during January.

“It would be great to get a goalscorer in. We have good strikers but they are all young kids and it would be good to get an experienced one in.” (Scotsman)

Edinburgh derby to be tribute to Paul and Skinner

Hibs manager Terry Butcher has called for the two Edinburgh clubs to use their upcoming derby fixture as an opportunity to remember the two young players who died over the festive period.

Former Hearts youngster Jamie Skinner and Hibs U20 player David Paul lost their lives within hours of each other. Hearts and Hibs want to use their Edinburgh derby fixture on 2 January as a chance to pay tribute to the pair.

“If anything, I think it will be a celebration of two young boys’ lives more than anything else,” says the Hibs manager, who is looking forward to his first capital derby but concedes it will be a more poignant affair in the circumstances. “These players never played [first-team football] for their clubs. I’ve known a few people who have passed on – the Phil O’Donnells and Davie Coopers of this world – who had excellent careers and were able to make their families extra proud but poor David and Jamie never had that opportunity and the players that will be playing in the derby are the lucky ones in that they can go out there and play at that level.” (Scotsman)

Zlatan on Celtic: Can I play there every week?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has hinted that he could finish his glittering career at Celtic. The Swedish said: “How could I say I wouldn’t want to play for those fans every week?” (The Sun)

Lay off my young Hearts, Locke tells Tynecastle fans

Gary Locke is appealing to Hearts fans to give his players a break and stop heckling. The Jambos boss reckons everyone needs to pull together if they are to turn the stricken Tynecastle club around.

“The only way we’re going to get out of this situation we’re in is by everyone being in it together”, Locke said, “players don’t intentionally misplace a pass.” (The Sun)