The Rumour Mill: Thursday’s football news and gossip

Dermot Desmond believes the absence of Rangers in the SPL is 'disappointing'. Picture: TSPL
Dermot Desmond believes the absence of Rangers in the SPL is 'disappointing'. Picture: TSPL
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In today’s Rumour Mill: Celtic shareholder says Rangers are missed from SPL; Fraser Forster in line for England call-up; League reconstruction discussed; plus the rest of the day’s football news and gossip.

Desmond misses Rangers

Celtic’s majority shareholder Dermot Desmond has appeared to contradict the views of chief executive Peter Lawwell by saying that he would like to see Rangers back in the top flight. He said: “Rangers are a fantastic club with a great history. They will, in not too long a time, be back in the SPL. I have no doubt about that. And they’re needed for Scottish football because of their following, the size of the club and especially their history. We certainly would like to contest with them every week. We believe we have a better team and management structure. For us, it’s disappointing that they are not there but that’s decisions by the various clubs and leagues and we accept those.” (Record)

Dermot Desmond also predicted that the best years of manager Neil Lennon are yet to come after Celtic’s breakthrough Champions League win in Moscow. He said: “We were confident in the team and Neil’s ability. The best years of Neil Lennon have yet to come.” (Various)

Rangers fans plan away game boycott

A Rangers supporters group is calling on members to stay at home if Rangers are drawn away from home in today’s League Cup draw. The Ibrox club are guaranteed to be drawn against an SPL side, and the Unified Supporters Platform have called on chief executive Charles Green to back their stance. They see it as a protest against the SPL clubs’ refusal to allow Rangers back into the top flight following their financial collapse last season. (Mail)

Forster set for England call-up

Fraser Forster is line to be named in Roy Hodgson’s England squad today after he was watched by goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence in Celtic’s recent Champions League draw against Benfica. With third-choice Jack Butland dropping into the England Under-21s, Forster, 24, will join up with Manchester City star Joe Hart and Norwich City’s John Ruddy in the squad for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland. (Sun)

• Celtic boss Neil Lennon fears the impressive form of Gary Hooper could cost the club in the striker’s negotiations over a new contract. (Record)

Levein had no choice on Fletcher - Booth

Scott Booth insists Craig Levein was left with no choice but to end Steven Fletcher’s exile from the Scotland squad. The Scotland under-16 coach said: “For me you should always put the players in form into squads and into games and if you can do that then you can’t go far wrong.” (Sun)

• Kris Commons believes Celtic stand to benefit from Craig Levein’s decision not to pick the midfielder for Scotland. He said: “I’m in the form of my life. There’s been no fall-out with Craig. I’m the fittest I’ve ever felt so it’s Celtic’s gain.” (Record)

• Scotland full-back Phil Bardsley is set to make his comeback today when Sunderland take on Middlesborough in a closed-doors match. His return from injury comes to late to be involved in the upcoming World Cup double header, but he could be called up if cover is needed. (Express)

Goram wants Old Firm draw

Ex-Rangers goalkeeper Andy Goram is hoping for his former club to be drawn against Celtic in today’s Scottish Communities League Cup draw. Goram said: “I really want to play Celtic, I really would. I think it’s time we had one because everyone is missing it. We’re only quarter of the way into the season and everyone in the country is missing it. Even the most bitter Rangers and Celtic fans can’t say they’re not missing the Old Firm games – they’re the best games in the world.” (Scotsman)

Houston calls for patience

Peter Houston says it will take time to rebuild the Dundee United squad after the departure of several key players from Tannadice during the summer. The United manager said: “I understand the board have to cut because there is no money. It’s the third year in a row that we’ve been cut and it’s important they do that to balance the books. But people have to remember that it will take time to rebuild.” (Various)

16-10-16 league format discussed

Talks on the future of Scottish football could result in a 16-team top flight and three senior divisions. According to sources, the 16-10-16 set-up would see a 16-team SPL, a ten-team “Championship” and a bottom 16-team league. (Sun)

Hibs defender defends challenge

Hibs defender Alan Maybury has
defended his challenge on Aberdeen kid Ryan Fraser,
insisting it was whole-hearted but never intended to injure his opponent. He said: “My eyes were firmly fixed on the ball and I felt it was a tackle I had to go for and that it was winnable. I understand the complaint, but I feel I won the ball and my momentum carried me through into the winger.” (Evening News)

• Hibs chairman Rod Petrie has assumed additional duties at the Easter Road club following the resignation of chief executive Scott Lindsay last month. (Mail)


• Inverness boss Terry Butcher will sit in the stand for the first ever SPL Highland derby tomorrow after accepting a one-match ban for his criticism of referee George Salmond after the 1-1 draw with Aberdeen last month. (Express)

• Former Aberdeen striker has joined American side Phoenix FC, who were only formed last month. (Sun)

• Aberdeen striker Mitch Megginson has joined Alloa on one-month loan deal. (Record)