The Rumour Mill: Friday’s Scottish football news and gossip

Leigh Griffiths: time at boyhood heroes could be nearing an end
Leigh Griffiths: time at boyhood heroes could be nearing an end
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In today’s Rumour Mill: Time running out for Hibs loan stars; Hooper key to Celtic’s Euro hopes, says Mulgrew; Derby keep tabs on Kelly; Sheffield United close in on Murphy plus the rest of the day’s Scottish football news and gossip.

Hopes fade for Easter Road loanees

The chances of Hibs keeping hold of three of their key players appear to be diminishing, with Pat Fenlon admitting that he’s exploring other options whilst striker Leigh Griffiths appeared to play down the likelihood of an extended Easter Road stay. Griffiths, along with Jorge Claros and Northern Irish international Ryan McGivern are all at Easter Road on loan until late January, and whilst Hibs have been working to try and extend the trio’s deals, Fenlon is only too aware that time is running out and has identified potential replacements. Claros, a Honduran international, signed on a 12-month loan deal last January from Motagua, whilst McGivern and Griffiths are on loan from Manchester City and Wolves respectively. But whilst Griffiths is keen to stay, a Twitter exchange with Wolves team-mate Matt Doherty - also an ex-Hibs loanee - appeared to suggest that his chances of staying in Edinburgh are slim.

• Hibs are said to be preparing a bid for St Johnstone midfielder Liam Craig. The player is out of contract in the summer, but a small fee could tempt the McDiarmid Park side to let Craig swap Perth for Edinburgh.

Hooper essential if we’re to make Euro progress - Mulgrew

Celtic captain Charlie Mulgrew has urged the Parkhead side to hold onto highly-rated striker Gary Hooper if the club are to make waves in the knockout stages of the Champions League. Hooper, who scored Celtic’s second in a 2-0 win over Dundee this week, has been linked with a January move, with English Premier League sides Liverpool and Newcastle joining Italian cracks Juventus in tracking the former Scunthorpe United forward.

Manager Neil Lennon has stated he is hopeful of exiting the January transfer window in a stronger position than when the club entered it, and Mulgrew believes the lure of the last 16 might convince Hooper to extend his time at Parkhead.

Derby County step up interest in Kilmarnock’s Liam Kelly

Nigel Clough is ready to raid Rugby Park for a second time as he seeks to bolster his Derby County squad. Clough is said to be weighing up a move for talented Kilmarnock midfielder Liam Kelly, who scored the only goal in Kllie’s 1-0 win over Hearts on Boxing Day. Clough has ex-Killie star Craig Bryson in his squad, along with one-time Rugby Park striker Connor Sammon, who ended up at Derby after a brief spell with Wigan. Although Kenny Shiels is keen for Kelly to extend his stay in Ayrshire, the Scotland international may be tempted by a return south of the border.

The 22-year-old Kelly has also been linked with Celtic and English Premier League pair West Ham United and Norwich, but Derby’s efforts could be hampered by a limited transfer fund.

Sheffield United make progress on Jamie Murphy move

Jamie Murphy could yet be on his way out of Fir Park in January after Sheffield United hinted that they had made progress in their attempts to lure the attacker away from the SPL. The Blades have made a winger their priority for the January transfer window and are just one of a number of interested parties, but the League One side, who held talks with the Steelmen midweek, have admitted that there are a number of hurdles yet to be negotiated before they can table a bid.

Motherwell have informed United that it would set them back £200,000 to secure the winger’s services but the Bramall Lane side believe half that amount would be a more realistic figure.

SPL stars will have no regrets if they join Ibrox revolution, says Wallace

Rangers defender Lee Wallace believes SPL players would have no regrets if they chose to join the battle to take Rangers back to the SPL. The former Hearts fullback stayed on at Ibrox following the upheaval last summer, and has since been joined by former Hearts team-mates Ian Black, Kevin Kyle and David Templeton along with ex-St Johnstone striker Francisco Sandaza, whilst the club have been linked with a host of current SPL talent including Aberdeen’s Ryan Fraser and Motherwell’s Jamie Murphy. Wallace is of the opinion that the experiences of the former Tynecastle quartet will serve as an advert for anyone wary of dropping down the divisions to sign for the Ibrox club.

Now’s your Ross County chance, Adams tells Lawson

Ross County manager Derek Adams has urged Paul Lawson to seize the chance to stake a claim for a regular berth in the Staggies starting line up. An injury to Stuart Kettlewell in the Victoria Park side’s 1-0 win over Hibs on Boxing Day will keep him out for 4-6 weeks, and Adams is sure that former Celtic midfielder Lawson is capable of filling Kettlewell’s boots after suffering his own

Scottish football news in brief

• Matt Lockwood believes Dundee can perform their own Tayside version of the Great Escape and haul themselves off the foot of the SPL. The Dens Park side are currently nine points adrift at the bottom.

• Kelvin Wilson could be hit with an SFA ban for his off the ball clash with John Baird in Celtic’s 2-0 win over Dundee. Television pictures appeared to show Wilson throwing an arm into Baird’s face as the two challenged for the ball.

• Hearts defender Ryan McGowan could be on his way to China, if a lucrative deal from the Far East is made when the transfer window opens. The Australian international has been linked with a number of clubs in the East and in England, and Hearts could reluctantly let McGowan go for a fee now, than lose him for nothing in the summer.

• Gavin Rae has called on Aberdeen to sort out their inconsistencies - so they avoid another horror season like last year. The Pittodrie side went on a 10-game unbeaten run earlier this season, but shipped four goals away to Motherwell on Boxing Day.