Scott Brown could be set to make a shock return to the Scotland squad, Joey Barton nears the exit door at Ibrox after Rangers suspended the midfielder indefinitely, and Brendan Rodgers backed the likes of Moussa Dembele to remain at Celtic.
Brown to make Scots return
Scott Brown could be about to make a sensational return to the Scotland squad ahead of next month’s crunch World Cup qualifier with England at Wembley.
The Celtic midfielder announced his international retirement earlier this summer, citing strenuous demands of playing for both club and country.
However, it is now understood the 31-year-old is in discussions with boss Gordon Strachan about a potential comeback and may be named in the squad to face England, which will be announced next week. (Daily Record)
Barton nears Rangers exit
Joey Barton’s Rangers career is all but over after the club decided to extend the midfielder’s ban indefinitely following a disciplinary meeting between both parties yesterday.
Barton was initially suspended by the club six weeks ago for a training ground row with manager Mark Warburton.
It is understood that Rangers will not sack their controversial player, with a January move back down south being touted as the most likely scenario to occur. (Evening Times)
Rodgers backs Dembele to stay
Brendan Rodgers believes Celtic should be able to hold on to the likes of Moussa Dembele and Scott Sinclair, insisting the club is “very, very hard to leave”.
The Ladbrokes Premiership league leaders are unbeaten in domestic competition, including reaching the Betfred Cup final, and qualified for the Champions League group stage.
It’s led to a number of players being linked with big clubs in England and on the continent. And while Rodgers admits a hefty wage packet would tempt any star, the club are doing their best to make Parkhead and Lennoxtown an enjoyable environment for players to earn their living. (Daily Mail)
Keatings feared season was over
Hibs striker James Keatings today revealed how he feared his season was over as he felt his left knee “explode” only minutes after paving the way for the club’s first win in six matches.
Keatings had just seen his shot deflect off Dunfermline midfielder Nat Wedderburn and into the Pars net – cancelling out Kallum Higginbotham’s earlier opener at East End Park – when he went for a 50/50 ball with defender Jason Talbot. But he was left in agony, a scan revealing he’d suffered a small tear in his medial ligament and although he’s been ruled out for six weeks, the 24-year-old admitted he believes he “got off lucky.” (Evening News)
O’Halloran surprised to play
Michael O’Halloran admits he was surprised to be named among Rangers’ starting XI for the visit of St Johnstone on Wednesday.
The winger was widely praised for his performance by the home support, despite a frustrating evening where the hosts were held to a 1-1 draw by Tommy Wright’s men.
O’Halloran insists he’s never been one to ask the manager why he’s not playing, having sat on the bench for most of the season, but is now determined to take his chance. (Evening Times)
Lennon’s ban reduced
Hibs head coach Neil Lennon has had his Uefa ban reduced to a four-match touchline suspension following an appeal.
European football’s governing body had initially meted out a five-game penalty after charging Lennon with “acts of violence against the referee” during July’s Europa League first leg 1-0 defeat by Brondby.
The former Celtic manager was sent to the stand by Spanish official Juan Martinez Munuera after remonstrating over the decision to wrongly disallow a Jason Cummings goal for offside. (The Scotsman)
Warburton: I have 95 per cent backing
Mark Warburton believes he retains the backing of 95 per cent of Rangers supporters and insists he remains fully committed to the task of restoring the Ibrox club to the summit of Scottish football.
The Rangers manager, who labelled speculation linking him with the vacancy at English Championship club Wigan Athletic as “nonsensical”, feels criticism of his team’s start to the season is largely confined to what he describes as “rogue comments” on radio phone-ins and newspaper hotlines. (The Scotsman)
McInnes confident of win over Celtic
Derek McInnes is confident Aberdeen can inflict Celtic’s first defeat in domestic football under Brendan Rogers at Pittodrie tomorrow but admits he is far too sensible to suggest the Premiership title will end up anywhere other than Parkhead.
The defending champions may be struggling to make an impact in the Champions League but Wednesday’s 4-0 victory at Dingwall makes it 11 wins and a draw from their 12 matches so far against Scottish opposition.
It is a run that included the Dons’ 23rd consecutive league defeat at Celtic Park, but McInnes’s side won both meetings at Pittodrie last season and he is convinced they can repeat that feat to consolidate their own position as closest challengers. (Various)
Johnsen pushing for a start
Bjorn Johnsen is pushing for a starting place when Hearts travel to Inverness Caledonian Thistle tomorrow. Head coach Robbie Neilson admitted today that the American striker is forcing his way into his thoughts for the trip to the Highlands.
Johnsen has made just one start in eight appearances for Hearts so far and is eager to secure a sustained run in the side. (Evening News)
NEWS IN BRIEF
• Raith Rovers winger Bobby Barr to miss a month with a knee injury. (Deadline News)
• Tom Hateley backs Dundee manager Paul Hartley to turnaround the club’s ailing fortunes on the park. (Daily Record)
• Jordan Rossiter to wait until next week’s clash with Ross County to make his Rangers return after suffering another injury setback. (Evening Times)
• Barcelona are set to be without injured foursome Jeremy Mathieu, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Aleix Vidal when they travel to Celtic Park in a month’s time. (Daily Express)