Rumour Mill: Old Firm derby | Mike Ashley | Deila

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BOTH sides of the Old Firm react to the League Cup semi-final draw, Ally McCoist looks for the positives in Mike Ashley’s Rangers involvement, and Ronny Deila reflects on his time at Celtic so far.

Old Firm semi-final draw

Getting Rangers in the League Cup semi-final was exactly what everyone at Celtic wanted, according to striker Anthony Stokes. The Irishman is looking forward to an “epic” derby when the teams face each other on either January 31 or February 1 next year. (The Scotsman)

• Ally McCoist does not want the Old Firm semi-final to distract his players from the much more important task of getting Rangers out of the second tier. He also admitted the players were much happier than he was at being drawn against the Scottish champions. (The Scotsman)

• Celtic boss Ronny Deila feels the League Cup semi will be like “no other Old Firm derby” due to the unprecedented gap between the match and the last time the sides met, which was in April 2012. (The Mail on Sunday)

New Firm semi should be at Hampden

Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara wants the other semi-final - between his side and Aberdeen - to take place at Hampden Park. In the past grounds like Tynecastle and Easter Road have been used to host such occasions but McNamara feels neither are suitable in this instance. (Sunday Post)

Silver lining of Mike Ashley’s Rangers involvement

McCoist hopes Mike Ashley’s involvement with Rangers could dissuade other clubs from trying to lure talent away from Ibrox. The Rangers manager was asked the question in relation to speculation surrounding the future of Lewis Macleod. McCoist stressed that he wanted to keep the young midfielder, calling him a “shining star” throughout the club’s “darker days”. (The Scotsman)

• Craig Gordon was indeed offered a contract to sign for Rangers according to McCoist. The Celtic stopper thanked the Rangers physio on Friday for helping him get back to full fitness, before stating that no deal was offered. In response McCoist has refuted that version of events. (The Mail on Sunday)

• Lee McCulloch wants to emulate David Weir by continuing to play high level football in spite of his advancing age. The 36-year old has played every game this season as he looks to secure a new contract to remain at Ibrox. (Mail on Sunday)

• Sports Direct, owned by Mike Ashley, have effectively possessed control of Rangers’ commercial deals for the past two years. Rangers Football Club Ltd own 51 per cent of the joint venture in comparison to the retail company’s 49 per cent. However, under the agreement Sports Direct have two votes for every share they own. (The Sunday Herald)

Deila reflects on beginning of life at Celtic

Ronny Deila believes his initial struggles with Celtic were down to him working “too much and too hard” while trying to adapt to a new country. The Norwegian also revealed he has several life coaches to help him get through the emotional pressure of football. (The Scotsman)

• Stefan Johansen stressed Celtic will be “fighting for their lives” when they travel to FC Astra in the Europa League. The midfielder said the players were desperate to qualify for the knockout stages, and having taken seven points from their first three games they’ve got a very good chance of doing so. (The Scotsman)

Banned Celtic midfielder Aleksandar Tonev has received full backing from his manager over the alleged Shay Logan racism incident. Deila believes it is a case of “word against word” and that he “feels sorry” for the player. (Mail on Sunday)

News in brief

• According to attacker Niall McGinn, Aberdeen are a stronger side after enduring the disappointment of missing out on second place at the conclusion of last season. (The Sun)

• John Sutton admits Motherwell are in a “serious situation” which they’ll need to fight their way out. The Lanarkshire club are off to their worst start to a league season in 26 years. (The Sun)

• Former Celtic, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock striker Cillian Sheridan hopes his Champions League form with APOEL Nicosia can help him force his way back into the Republic of Ireland squad. (Mail on Sunday)

• Martin O’Neill has faith in Aiden McGeady to handle the pressure of returning to Glasgow. The former Celtic star drew the ire of supporters around the country when he decided to play for Ireland instead of his home nation. (Sunday Post)

• James McFadden believes modern day football managers look for athletes ahead of entertainers on the football pitch. The former Scotland attacker struggled to find a club this summer before eventually landing with St Johnstone. (The Scotsman)