Rumour Mill: Celtic targets | Hibs | Rangers
CELTIC linked with Israeli striker Omer Damari and Peterborough’s Lee Tomlin, Hibs close to finalising deals for a couple of players, and Dave King believes new share issue is inevitable at Ibrox.
Celtic play down Omar Damari link
NEIL Lennon could add Israeli hitman Omer Damari to the Celtic squad with reports the Hapoel Tel Aviv striker has been in Glasgow for talks with the champions.
Lennon is believed to have been tracking the 24-year-old frontman for the best part of the last three years, and Damari, who has scored three goals in 11 international appearances features high on Celtic’s list of targets.
Financially struggling and aware they will have to sell, Hapoel Tel Aviv rejected a bid from Spanish outfit Celta Vigo earlier this month for Damari, who has netted 12 times in 18 matches for the Israeli side.
Reports suggest Celtic have been put off Damari by the £2 million release clause, and a work permit is also expected be a stumbling block as he has not played 75 per cent of Israel’s matches in the last two years.
The Hoops have also distanced themselves from reports linking them with Maccabi Haifa midfielder Eyal Golasa, while Charlton Athletic striker Yann Kermorgant is also on the club’s radar. And the club could face a fight to get their hands on Australian international defender Rhys Williams, with West Ham circling.
And young Celtic full-back Darnell Fisher is set for a run in the first team after Adam Matthews was ruled out for three weeks with a calf injury. (Various)
New Tomlin hope for Hoops
PETERBOROUGH have given Celtic the green light to go after wantaway striker Lee Tomlin.
Just five months after publicly criticising Celtic for unsettling Tomlin with a number of transfer deadline day bids in August, the Posh - who are still on the trail of St Johnstone frontman Stevie May - have opened the door for the Hoops to make another move for Tomlin, but reports say the League One club would have to lower their £3 million asking price.
Lennon is currently weighing up his options, but if Georgios Samaras does decide to leave, the Celtic boss could be forced into a move. (Daily Express)
Celtic make new Leigh Griffiths enquiry
CELTIC have enquired further about the availability of Wolves striker Leigh Griffiths. The former Hibs talisman admitted last week it would be ‘an honour’ to play for the Parkhead side, with Celtic chief Peter Lawwell believed to have spoken to Molineux counterpart Jez Moxey about the 23-year-old striker.
Wolves manager Kenny Jackett is understood to have been upset by Griffiths’ comments about Celtic, revealing that he had spoken to the one-time Dundee forward about his remarks, adding that he was in the squad to face Bristol City this weekend. (Daily Express)
New share issue ‘inevitable’, says Dave King
FORMER Ibrox director Dave King believes a new share issue at Rangers is inevitable, if the club is to avoid savage cuts. King yesterday appealed to the Rangers hierarchy to keep spending on the squad so the club could challenge Celtic on its return to the top flight, and the South Africa-based businessman is set to front a new round of funding via a fresh share offer.
The £22.7 million raised by a previous share issue has trickled away, with Rangers chief executive Graham Wallace scrutinising the Ibrox accounts in a bid to cut costs. The first-team squad last week flatly refused a 15 per cent wage cut, but King told the Daily Mail that a new share issue is ‘100 per cent inevitable’ and he fully expects to be called in to provide assistance.
King held meetings with shareholder and board member Sandy Easdale last year in a bid to arrange an agreement allowing him to invest in the club once again and assume the role of chairman of Rangers International Football Club, but the talks ultimately led to nothing.
But former Weir Group employee King’s warning to fans was that ‘cost-cutting is not going to help’ when the club are in the Scottish Premiership.
He added: “How often can you say to the fans ‘Trust us and give us your money’?
“What [the current board] are saying to the fans is: ‘We’re not putting more money in but we want you to pay yours up front.’ All in the full knowledge that, if they don’t get new funds in, that season-ticket money might not be enough to last a full season.”
“We have to be in a position to go up to the Premiership and we have to be in the position to launch a challenge to Celtic.” (Daily Mail)
Hibs ‘have no problems attracting new players’
TERRY Butcher has hinted that Hibs could unveil ‘one or two’ signings as he seeks to bolster his squad during the January transfer window. The former Inverness CT gaffer has confirmed he will leave rebuilding the squad until the summer, telling The Sun that the January window is ‘more of a scramble’.
Butcher is yet to bring in any players, but has reportedly told Tom Taiwo, Rowan Vine, Kevin Thomson and Tim Clancy that they are free to go, while young full-back Fraser Mullen left to join Raith Rovers.
And the Hibs boss insisted that the club have no problems in attracting new players, saying: “There are so many attractions coming to this club. It’s easy to promote the club, it doesn’t take much selling.
“Players are keen to come but curcumstances have prevented that from happening so far.”
The club had been loosely linked with Adam Rooney, who joined Aberdeen yesterday on a two-and-a-half year deal from Oldham.
Meanwhile, former Hibs striker Derek Riordan has revealed he could be on his way to Belgium, after Royal Antwerp boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink contacted the striker, who has been without a club since a short-term deal at St Johnstone. Riordan said: “Jimmy called me and we had a chat. I’m very interested and I’m hoping to go over to Antwerp.”(Various)
NEWS IN BRIEF
• Barry Ferguson has taken David Goodwillie to Blackpool, as he begins his tenure as caretaker manager of the Seasiders. Ferguson is also reportedly keen on bringing former Ibrox team-mate Kris Boyd to the Championship side
• Kilmarnock are chasing former Rugby Park winger Alexei Eremenko and Brighton stopper Vitalijs Maksimenko, but Allan Johnston has warned that deals for the pair are very much in the balance
• St Mirren midfielder Paul McGowan has revealed he was terrified at the prospect of going to jail as punishment for assaulting two police officers
• Gary Locke has expressed disappointment at not receiving a phone call from referee Brian Colvin in the aftermatch of the incident-filled 3-3 draw with St Johnstone. McDiarmid Park counterpart Tommy Wright was telephoned by Colvin who explained some of his decisions
• Meanwhile, St Johnstone have warned that no one will be signing Stevie May ‘on the cheap’. The striker’s form this season has attracted attention from clubs down south
• Chris Iwelumo is not a replacement for May, St Johnstone say. The former Scotland striker was brought in on a short-term deal yesterday
• Russell Latapy has joined up with John Hughes for a third time - as Inverness assistant boss. The pair played together at Hibs, before Hughes brought Latapy to Falkirk
• Stenhousemuir’s John Gemmell has been hit with an SFA charge following a Twitter rant in which he called Rangers boss Ally McCoist a ‘p***k’
• Derek Adams has insisted that Ross County’s recent signing spree didn’t break the bank - and he hasn’t ruled out adding more players to the Staggies squad
• Rangers sports science guru Jim Henry has slammed critics who say the Gers players aren’t working hard enough. Former Celtic coach Henry also defended management trio Ally McCoist, Kenny McDowall and Iain Durrant
• Dundee United are being sued for £75,000 by Johnny Russell’s agents. The striker’s representatives claim the Tannadice club failed to pay them a pre-agreed 10 per cent cut of Russell’s £750,000 move to Derby County last year