Rumour Mill: Celtic to miss out on key target? | Rangers ‘face stern test’ in Macedonia | Clarke calls for cup changes

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Celtic risk missing out on key target, Steven Gerrard ‘slightly disappointed’ with scoreline in Shkupi clash and Steve Clarke wants to remodel the Betfred Cup

Celtic face missing out on McGinn - unless they pay £4m

Brendan Rodgers is still adding to his squad but faces missing out on one target. Picture: SNS Group

Brendan Rodgers is still adding to his squad but faces missing out on one target. Picture: SNS Group

Celtic could lose out in their chase for John McGinn unless they cough up around £4 million – with a clutch of English clubs from both the Premiership and Championship beginning to circle the Scotland midfielder. Hibs have rejected two bids from Celtic for the former St Mirren player, the second one £1.75 million – just £250,000 more than their initial offer. Both fall well short of the Capital club’s valuation. There has been no further contact between Hibs and Celtic since but it is understood the Easter Road club are baffled by the paucity of the offers they have received given that they sold Scott Brown to the Hoops for £4.5m a decade ago. (The Scotsman)

Gerrard ‘slightly disappointed’ with margin of victory

Steven Gerrard admitted to “slight disappointment” at the outcome of his first competitive fixture in charge of Rangers as they secured a 2-0 first-leg lead in their Europa League first qualifying round tie against Shkupi. Gerrard’s side looked set to be taking only a slender 1-0 advantage to next Tuesday’s second leg in Skopje, courtesy of Jamie Murphy’s first-half strike, until captain James Tavernier converted a stoppage-time penalty. It left the Rangers manager warning his players they still face a stern test in the Macedonian capital next week if they are to book a place in the next round. (The Scotsman)

Clarke wants Betfred Cup changes

Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke has called for five substitutes to be allowed in the Betfred Cup.

The Killie boss hit out at the early start to the new campaign, claiming it had thrown his pre-season plans into disarray. Clarke reckons extending the number of replacements allowed during games would be a suitable compromise.

He said: “Five subs would be a sensible request. Normally in pre-season games you would give players 45, 60 and then build up towards 90 minutes.” (The Sun)

Griff injury blow

Leigh Griffiths will face nearly another month on the sidelines, according to Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers.

The Scotland striker will be joined on the sidelines by Irish winger Jonny Hayes.

Rodgers said: “Leigh, along with Jonny Hayes, is probably two or three weeks away. We’ll know more in a few weeks’ time.” (Various)

Levein eyes more goalies

Hearts plan to sign another two goalkeepers for this season, manager Craig Levein revealed today. The American trialist Kevin Silva is poised to join the reserve squad, with Levein seeking another keeper to challenge Zdenek Zlamal in the first team. Silva has convinced Levein he deserves a contract after featuring in three first-team pre-season friendlies. The 20-year-old played at college level in America but will be offered a deal to stay in Europe, albeit at reserve level. He would be Hearts’ 12th signing of the summer but Levein is already targeting more. He also wants a back-up keeper to compete with Zlamal at first-team level. (Evening News)

Dundee play down Caulker rumours

Dundee have insisted that defender Steven Caulker was sent home early from their pre-season training camp in Portugal after sustaining an ankle injury, rather than for breaching club discipline.

Manager Neil McCann said that the ex-England international had picked up the injury in a training game against Portimonense and flew back to Scotland to get a scan on his ankle. (Evening Telegraph)

Rodgers wary of Euro pitfalls

Brendan Rodgers believes Valur Reykjavik’s shock win over Rosenborg on Wednesday has underlined why the new Champions League qualifying format is more hazardous than ever for clubs like Celtic.

The Hoops have been widely tipped to face Rosenborg
in the next stage of the 
competition but the Norwegian champions slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Valur in Iceland, with the identity of 
Celtic’s next opponents very much unknown.

For Rodgers, it was another indication of how much tougher it has become. Rodgers said: “Everyone was probably looking at Rosenborg as being the favourites in that tie but this is a really treacherous period to be playing your games in the tournament.” (The Scotsman)