RANGERS renew their attack on synthetic pitches as Martyn Waghorn suffers an injury at Rugby Park; Queen of the South manager James Fowler insists Rangers’ pitch problems are mental; new Celtic signing Kristoffer Ajer says Ronny Deila will remain at Parkhead beyond the summer, plus the rest of today’s football news and gossip
Mark Warburton attacks Kilmarnock pitch again after Waghorn injury
Rangers manager Mark Warburton has renewed his condemnation of synthetic pitches in Scottish football, claiming the 3G surface at Rugby Park was directly responsible for the potentially season-ending knee injury suffered by Martyn Waghorn this week.
Kilmarnock called for a retraction of comments made on the Ibrox club’s website which described it as “unforgiving” in the aftermath of Tuesday night’s Scottish Cup fifth-round replay.
But Warburton was unrepentant, saying: “We’re quite adamant as a club, from our medical department and from ourselves as coaches reviewing the injury, that the nature of Martyn’s injury would not be the same if he’d been playing on grass.” (Scotsman)
Stuart Armstrong still learning to cope with Celtic demands
Former Dundee United midfielder Stuart Armstrong has admitted that he has found the transition to Celtic a challenge.
The 23-year-old midfielder was signed by Ronny Deila in January 2015 for £2 million, but has struggled for consistency after a promising start.
“There are times when I haven’t coped as well physically or mentally,” he said. “But it’s about learning and this is my first proper full season with Celtic. I’m learning more every day about how to accept being a Celtic footballer and everything that comes with that.
“My body has had to deal with the greater volume of games you play here. There are mental demands as well. This is a huge club and there is loads of pressure and if performances aren’t up to scratch, everyone knows about it. (Scotsman)
John Rankin accuses Dundee United players of downing tools
Dundee United’s John Rankin has opened up on his side’s brittle state that has seen them 13 points adrift at the bottom of the Scottish Premier League table.
Having taken only nine points from a possible 45 since Jackie McNamara’s departure in October, Rankin has revealed the extent of the Tannadice side’s freefall, saying that his team-mates need to stop “downing tools.”
“You try and grab players by the scruff of the neck, of course you notice that happens in football. Heads do go down. In our mindset we are giving 100 per cent but more often than not we are suffering from a set-piece, and somebody’s head goes down and you are maybe not 100 per cent focused because you are trying to drag someone else with you.
“Our minds are going elsewhere and maybe our performances are not 100 per cent because boys are worried about things that are going on,” he added. “Because it’s affecting us all, this will affect livelihoods.” (Scotsman)
Rangers pitch problems all in their heads, says Queen of the South boss
Queen of the South manager James Fowler hopes his team’s plastic pitch will present a psychological advantage as they prepare to face Rangers in the Championship. Rangers manager Mark Warburton has complained bitterly about synthetic surfaces, which he claims led to the injury sustained by Martyn Waghorn at Rugby Park.
“It probably can be a mental thing at times,” said Fowler, “and if that gives us a slight advantage hopefully it will work in our favour.
“It can affect players – it can be in their heads if it’s taken them longer to recover. They’ve played Alloa, Kilmarnock and now ourselves on Sunday.” (Daily Record)
New boy Kristoffer Ajer confident Ronny Deila will stay at Celtic
Ronny Deila will still be the Celtic manager next season, new signing Kristoffer Ajer has said. The Norwegian teenager, who plays for Start, signed a pre-contract agreement and will join the Parkhead side in the summer.
Speculation surrounding Deila’s future has been growing since Ross County dumped Celtic from the League Cup, ending hopes of another treble. Celtic’s early exits in Europe have also been a source of disappointment.
But the midfielder struck a note of optimism, saying: “I’m not afraid. I’m sure he will keep his job. Ronny is a fantastic coach who enjoys great confidence in his team and squad. I am not afraid of my position because I am a fellow player from Norway. He’s a very nice coach.” (Daily Express)