Neil Lennon backing Celtic to beat Rangers in the Scottish Cup semi finals; Gordon Strachan tips England to win Euro 2016 and Harry Forrester keen on new Rangers deal
Lennon backs Celtic to overcome Rangers
NEIL Lennon believes Rangers won’t be able to handle Celtic when the rivals meet in the semi finals of the Scottish Cup.
The former Hoops boss has been impressed with Rangers’ rejuvenation under Mark Warburton but reckons Celtic will be ‘too strong’ on the day.
Lennon added: “Nothing will prepare Mark Warburton for his first taste of the Old Firm as a manager. I’m not sure his Rangers side will have come up against as good a team as Celtic yet.
“Like all Old Firm games, it will be about who performs on the day.” (Various)
Strachan tips England to win Euros
GORDON Strachan has all but tipped England to win Euro 2016, after Roy Hodgson’s men defeated reigning world champions Germany 3-2 in Berlin.
Strachan - whose Scotland side will face the Auld Enemy in the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign - said that Scotland have ‘plenty of time’ to improve before facing England.
He added: “[England] have got top players, really top players. I was really impressed with them. If they play like that, can they win the finals? Yes. But that’s fine, we’ve got plenty of time.” (The Scotsman)
Forrester eyes new deal
HARRY Forrester has confirmed his desire to stay at Rangers beyond the summer - but has insisted he won’t get too involved with any contract talks.
The 25-year-old former Doncaster Rovers player has scored four goals in 13 appearances for Rangers since signing a six-month deal in January.
Forrester said: ““From day one, [earning a new contract has] been my aim. I won’t get too involved in that – I’ll let my representatives do that with the gaffer and the club and see if we can agree something.
“At the moment I’m just concentrating on playing as it’s been a long time since I played this number of games so I’m just enjoying it.” (Various)
Dundee keen on Mallan
DUNDEE have been linked with St Mirren midfielder Stephen Mallan as Paul Hartley looks to bolster his squad ahead of next season’s campaign.
Mallan has scored 11 goals for the Buddies this season, despite the Paisley side struggling in the Scottish Championship.
Still only 20, Mallan hit the headlines last season after scoring a stunning solo goal - against Dundee. (Courier)
St Johnstone struggling ahead of United clash
ST Johnstone could line up against Dundee United in this weekend’s Tayside derby without several key players.
The Perth side are likely to be without the services of Steven Anderson, Danny Swanson, Murray Davidson and the banned Liam Craig. (Courier)
Sviatchenko aiming to ruin Hoops team-mates’ night
DENMARK defender Erik Sviatchenko is aiming to spoil his Celtic team-mates’ evening at Hampden tonight as he aims to get the better of the likes of Kieran Tierney, Charlie Mulgrew and Leigh Griffiths.
Sviatchenko said: “I hope [Tierney] will play, but obviously I will tell my team-mates how he is as a player. I am trying to give them information about the players so we can use it in some way and have that advantage.” (BBC)
Hearts boosted by return of key players for Celtic clash
HEARTS could welcome back Igor Rossi and Alim Ozturk ahead of their match against Celtic at Parkhead - but defender Callum Paterson looks set to miss out.
Ozturk and Rossi could return to bolster a backline that shipped three goals against St Johnstone at Tynecastle while Liam Smith is expected to continue at right back.
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson said: “Callum’s progressing well and he’s been doing a bit of running but I don’t think he’ll make the Celtic game. We’re hopeful of having him for the Inverness game, but if not, he’ll definitely be ready for Aberdeen.” (The Scotsman)
Nade reveals Romanov ‘reneged on promise’
CHRISTIAN Nade has revealed how he ended up staying at Hearts for three years and not six months - because Vladimir Romanov broke a promise.
The French striker signed for Hearts from Sheffield United during the summer of 2007, and was expected to team up with former Blades boss Neil Warnock at Crystal Palace.
But an offer for Nade from Warnock in the January 2008 window - as planned - was rejected by Hearts, and so Nade remained at Hearts until 2010, seeing out the remainder of his contract. (The Scotsman)
Mixu ‘turned air blue’ at Hibs Forster snub
IT’S no secret that Hibernian once turned down Fraser Forster - but former Hibs boss Mixu Paatelainen ‘let out about five expletives’ when he mentined to a scout his interest in the goalkeeper only to be told Hibs had already turned him down.
Paatelainen had been watching a youth game between Newcastle and Manchester United, and pointed out Forster, then playing for the Magpies to ex-Hibs scout Ian Brown.
But unbeknownst to Mixu, Forster had already had a two-week trial at Hibs only to be told he would never make it as a goalkeeper because he was ‘technically untrained’. (Daily Mail)
NEWS IN BRIEF
• Tottenham are eyeing a summer move for Scotland and Bournemouth winger Matt Ritchie
• Partick Thistle and St Johnstone are to battle it out for Falkirk star Blair Alston