Major Hibs blow, Celtic award, Scotland winger's future now in doubt, Aberdeen tie up starlet - Scottish football evening briefing

We run through the main stories from the world of Scottish football this Friday ...
Celtic's Reo Hatate has landed the cinch Premiership Player of the Month award for February.Celtic's Reo Hatate has landed the cinch Premiership Player of the Month award for February.
Celtic's Reo Hatate has landed the cinch Premiership Player of the Month award for February.

Postecoglou sees plenty of room for improvement in on-song Hatate

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou is convinced Reo Hatate has several more levels of performance to attain following his recent improvement after the Japanese midfielder was been named cinch Premiership Player of the Month after an impressive run of form in February. “He is very determined to be the best footballer he can be,” said Postecoglou. “He’s not on his own though, this whole group has those characteristics and that helps someone like Reo because he is coming into an environment that suits that mindset. It’s fair to say that when he arrived here last year in January, he made an impact straight away, but there’s no doubt the first six months was going to be tough for him, coming off a J-League season. But this year after a good pre-season he has been really strong all year, and he has found another level since the World Cup break. My belief is there is another couple of levels in him at least and, knowing Reo and his mindset, he will definitely get there.”

Howe does not see a future for Fraser at Newcastle

Scotland winger Ryan Fraser's Newcastle future is in doubt.Scotland winger Ryan Fraser's Newcastle future is in doubt.
Scotland winger Ryan Fraser's Newcastle future is in doubt.

Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe has admitted Scotland international Ryan Fraser is unlikely to have a future at St James’ Park. The 29-year-old joined the Magpies on a five-year deal as a free agent after leaving Bournemouth – where he had worked with Howe previously – during the summer of 2020, but has been absent from the squad in recent months. Asked about Fraser’s situation, the Magpies boss said somewhat cryptically: “Ryan’s training with the Under-21s. I made the decision to concentrate on players that are committed to Newcastle. For the benefit of the group, I’ve made that call.” Asked further if the former Aberdeen winger had a future on Tyneside, Howe added: “I think that’s a difficult one for me to answer. “I’d never put a firm decision on that because life and football can change quickly. But I’d say at the moment, no he doesn’t.”

Motherwell defeat was just a blip, says Hearts boss Neilson

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Robbie Neilson insists Hearts have to take a holistic look at the season as they aim to get back to winning ways against St Johnstone on Saturday. Motherwell handed the Jambos only their second defeat in 14 matches across all competitions in their last outing, with a 2-0 win in the cinch Premiership at Fir Park. The Gorgie outfit had no fixture last week due to Celtic being in the ViaPlay Cup final, but they return to action against Saints at Tynecastle with their head coach stressing the big picture. Neilson said: “The first 20-30 minutes against Motherwell we played really well but then lost a goal at a key moment, and after that never really got back into it again until the last 10-15 minutes. For me, it was a 50-minute period where we didn’t hit the levels we’ve hit throughout the season. But you have to take that in isolation and say, ‘where are we now?’ We’re in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup, we had a great European campaign and we’re sitting third in the league, so let’s not get too carried away with a 50-minute period.”

McGeady suffers further fitness blow with season-ending hamstring injury

Aiden McGeady's Hibs season is over.Aiden McGeady's Hibs season is over.
Aiden McGeady's Hibs season is over.

Hibs winger Aiden McGeady has suffered more injury woe after being ruled out for the rest of the season with a hamstring problem. The 36-year-old returned in December following almost five months on the sidelines with a knee issue, and now his campaign has been ended prematurely as a result of the injury that forced him off early in the 2-0 win over Kilmarnock a fortnight ago. McGeady, who has managed just 14 appearances since arriving at Easter Road last summer, faces between four and six months on the sidelines. With his contract due to expire at the end of the season, there is now a possibility the former Republic of Ireland international – who admitted in January that he feared his previous injury may force him to retire – may have kicked his last ball for the Hibees. “Geads will be seeing another specialist shortly and that will determine whether or not he needs surgery,” said manager Lee Johnson. “He will be out for a minimum of four months and potentially six months. It’s really disappointing for us and really disappointing for him, but it’s our job to nurse him back to full fitness.”

Beale calls for a Rangers response after cup final defeat to Celtic

Michael Beale believes Rangers face a crucial week as they look to recover from their damaging Viaplay Cup final defeat by Celtic on Sunday. The Ibrox club is still hurting from the 2-1 loss to their biggest rivals at Hampden Park which represented another lost opportunity to bring silverware to Govan. It was Beale’s first defeat in 15 games since replacing Giovanni van Bronckhorst as manager last November and with Celtic enjoying a nine-point lead at the top of the cinch Premiership, only the Scottish Cup appears realistically winnable for the Light Blues. Rangers take on Raith Rovers at Ibrox in the quarter-finals of that competition on Sunday week but before comes the visit of second-bottom Kilmarnock in the league on Saturday before a trip to Lee Johnson’s Hibernian in midweek. Beale said: “I think it’s really important to show a response and to win. We have three games in a week. It’s a very interesting week. Kilmarnock at home, who are fighting for their lives down there. We know Derek (McInnes) will make it really tough. He has an insight into our club so he knows how our crowd are going to react to the start of this game, and I think Killie will make it difficult. We need to get three points however we get them. We’ll go away to Easter Road where I think Lee’s got them in good form and then we have an important cup game at home. It’s important we show a strong response now in these four games, including Motherwell, away into the international break. We need to prove that the weekend was a cup final against a strong rival and we fell short, but the show goes on and we’re moving forward, albeit with huge disappointment.”

Aberdeen starlet Duncan pens new deal

Kris Doolan has been given the Partick Thistle job on a permanent basis.Kris Doolan has been given the Partick Thistle job on a permanent basis.
Kris Doolan has been given the Partick Thistle job on a permanent basis.

Aberdeen has secured the future of Ryan Duncan, with the AFC Youth Academy graduate signing a new three-year contract. The 19-year-old winger, who is from Keig near Alford, will now remain at Pittodrie until the summer of 2026. “I am very happy to get my future sorted,” said Duncan. “It is a three-year contract which gives me a bit of security and allows me to concentrate on my football. Aberdeen is known for taking young players through to the first team. It is a Club built on youth players coming through. In recent years I have seen Scott McKenna, Lewis Ferguson and Calvin Ramsay all having their chance to shine at Aberdeen. This is the right place for me to develop. If I keep working hard and getting opportunities in the first team, I can only develop as a player.”

Doolan lands Partick Thistle job on permanent basis

Partick Thistle have confirmed the appointment of Kris Doolan on a permanent basis. The ex-Thistle striker was given the job on a caretaker basis after Ian McCall was sacked last month and the 36-year-old has taken seven points from nine in his tenure so far. “Partick Thistle FC are delighted to announce that Kris Doolan has been appointed as first team manager,” as statement read on the club’s website. “Doolan has been in interim charge of first team matters for almost three weeks now, overseeing away victories over Ayr United and Dundee as well as a draw at Arbroath. Kris had been in charge of the club’s under-18s side since January before being asked to lead the senior team. Now, Kris takes the managerial reigns on a full-time basis starting tomorrow against Raith Rovers – his first game in the dugout at Firhill. Academy director Paul McDonald will continue supporting Kris in his role as interim assistant manager.”