Scottish football gossip: Brendan Rodgers bemoans a lack of belief and aggression in defence; McLeish to call on Fergie for advice and Morelos confirms EPL dream
Our Celtic player ratings from last night’s defeat in Russia
Eck to call on Fergie
Alex McLeish will call on Sir Alex Ferguson in a bid to convince Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay that his international future lies with Scotland.
McTominay, who is keeping Paul Pogba out of the United starting line-up, is eligible to play for England or Scotland. (Scottish Sun)
Rodgers bemoans ‘lack of belief’
Brendan Rodgers bemoaned a lack of bravery and belief among his players as Celtic’s European campaign came to a dispiriting end in Russia against Zenit St Petersburg.
The comprehensive 3-0 victory left Rodgers lamenting his team’s approach to the match, along with some wretched defending which contributed to goals by Branislav Ivanovic, Daler Kuzyaev and Aleksandr Kokorin for Zenit.
The Celtic manager said: “Defensively, we lacked aggression, particularly in the first half. We talk about defending forward and we just didn’t defend forward well enough. We conceded poor goals from that.” (The Scotsman)
Morelos wants England switch
Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos sees his future in England, despite persistent interest from Chinese Super League side Beijing Renhe.
But the Colombian hitman appears to be harbouring hopes of playing for an English side, as he said: “I play in a country very close to the English Premier League and many teams are watching me.
“So I am very happy with what I am doing right now. I have a positive mentality and if a team in England showed serious interest in me, it would be very exciting.” (Daily Record)
Roberts to play in development game
Celtic winger Patrick Roberts is nearing a return to first-team action and will take part in Celtic’s development league match with Partick Thistle this evening.
The on-loan Manchester City wideman has been sidelined since suffering a hamstring injury in November.
And if Roberts comes through the match unscathed, he has an outside chance of making Brendan Rodgers’ matchday squad to face Aberdeen on Sunday. (Scottish Sun)
Naismith ‘can handle Ibrox heat’
Craig Levein insists Hearts forward Steven Naismith will handle the backlash coming his way when he returns to Ibrox for the first time tomorrow.
The Scotland internationalist can expect a hostile reception from Rangers fans after leaving when the club were liquidated in 2012 and then referring to them as a new entity.
Levein is adamant he will cope with the pressure. The manager stressed that his only concern is whether the 31-year-old’s hamstring injury has healed sufficiently for him to play in Glasgow. (Evening News)
De Vries blames ‘knuckle ball’ for second goal
Celtic goalkeeper Dorus de Vries has bemoaned the ‘knuckle ball’ that beat him for Zenit St Petersburg’s second goal last night.
The Dutchman was lambasted by critics for letting Daler Kuzyaev’s shot in, but the 37-year-old said: “I don’t know if you are familiar with the term ‘knuckle ball’. There is no spin on the ball, it just moves a little bit to the right. Initially I moved to the right, then it moves left at the last moment. And with that pace on the ball, you can only hope to get a good hand to it.” (Daily Record)
Lennon not keen on third Ibrox trip
Neil Lennon has admitted he wouldn’t be happy if Hibs were forced to face Rangers at Ibrox for a third time this season, with the Gers due two home games after the league split based on fixtures already completed.
Lennon said: “I would rather play them at home from my own personal point of view at that stage of the season. It could give teams around us an advantage and it would certainly give Rangers an advantage, which is what we don’t want at that stage of the season. It could make a massive difference. It could be important for Rangers if they are going for the title, hypothetically speaking. I wonder what other clubs would make of that as well.” (Evening News)