Triple Celtic boost ahead of Old Firm, Rangers latest on new deal, Hearts 'ahead of game', Hibs blueprint - Scottish football news

It has been press conference day across the Premiership and we give you the best stories from the day

McGregor looking good for Rangers

Celtic captain Callum McGregor has a “very good chance” of facing Rangers but will not be risked on Livingston’s artificial surface. Manager Brendan Rodgers will delay McGregor’s comeback until after Sunday’s cinch Premiership contest at the Tony Macaroni Arena. The midfielder has been troubled by Achilles pain and has not featured since coming off at half-time during Celtic’s 7-1 win over Dundee on February 28. Rodgers said: “Callum has been out on the field, but we are not risking him in this game. But he should hopefully re-join training next week.” When asked if McGregor had a chance of facing Rangers, Rodgers replied: “Yes, a very good chance.” Reo Hatate is set to make his return after playing only 19 minutes for Celtic since October. The Japan midfielder briefly returned from a hamstring injury at the start of the year only to suffer calf problems during the Asian Cup. Cameron Carter-Vickers is also expected to play after being left out of the United States squad amid ongoing hamstring issues but Celtic could again be without wingers Yang Hyun-jun and Luis Palma, the latter of whom has a calf injury.

Confidence over Lunny deal

Callum McGregor is nearing a Celtic return.Callum McGregor is nearing a Celtic return.
Callum McGregor is nearing a Celtic return.

Philippe Clement is confident that John Lundstram will extend his contract at Rangers. The 30-year-old midfielder has found good form since the Belgian boss took over at Ibrox last October but his current deal runs out in the summer. Ahead of the home cinch Premiership game against Hibernian on Saturday, Clement was asked if he was hopeful and confident of Lundstram staying in Govan. He said: “Yes, I am totally confident about that, that there’s a lot of love from both sides, so that there will be a solution.” Clement was pleased to report that Abdallah Sima, Ross McCausland, Kieran Dowell and Dujon Sterling are back in training and in contention for Saturday following recovery from various injuries, although Ridvan Yilmaz is out and a doubt for next week’s Old Firm game against Celtic at Ibrox, with Oscar Cortes, Ryan Jack and Danilo still on the sidelines.

Hearts ‘ahead of game’

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Steven Naismith is delighted that proactive Hearts have got themselves “ahead of the game” as they build towards next season. It has emerged in recent months that the Tynecastle club have agreed pre-contracts with Ross County playmaker Yan Dhanda, Motherwell midfielder Blair Spittal and Livingston left-back James Penrice. In addition, Hearts, who are currently 11 points clear in third place in the cinch Premiership, announced this week that they have secured the services of Kenneth Vargas on a five-year deal after the Costa Rica forward initially joined on loan from Herediano in his homeland. “I’m not going to talk about individual players (who have agreed pre-contracts), but one of the biggest things I took from when I was a player here was that the turnover of players each season, and when that happened, was so reactive,” said Hearts boss Naismith. “We can’t be reactive, we want to be ahead of the game. We want to be in a position where we know the areas within the next year to 18 months we might need to strengthen, whether it be for competition for places, because we feel somebody might move on, or somebody’s coming to the end."

Motherwell are Hibs’ inspiration

Rangers are hopeful on a new deal for John Lundstram.Rangers are hopeful on a new deal for John Lundstram.
Rangers are hopeful on a new deal for John Lundstram.

Hibs manager Nick Montgomery says his team need to take inspiration from Motherwell and Benfica if they are to get a positive result against Rangers on Saturday. The Ibrox outfit lost to both the Steelmen and Portuguese this month and Hibs, who have not even scored a goal against the Gers this season, know it will be a tough challenge against Philippe Clement’s men. “Obviously it can be done,” said Montgomery. "Because Motherwell have done it. Benfica also did it, although they’re a real powerhouse of European football – so it’s not an easy task. We know Ibrox is a really hostile environment. You have to believe you can get a result every week. But we’re not naïve and we understand how tough a task it will be. Our turnaround in form has coincided with the boys coming from back from international duty during January – and integrating new players who arrived in the January window. We’ve built some momentum and we’re looking to carry it on."

St Mirren aim to bounce back

St Mirren will not allow “18 bad minutes” at Rugby Park to define their season, according to assistant manager Diarmuid O’Carroll. The Buddies went into the international break on the back of a humbling 5-2 defeat by Kilmarnock in Ayrshire having led 2-0 at the interval. A goal from Killie captain Kyle Vassell in the 61st minute sparked a comeback that ended with David Watson scoring a fifth in the 79th minute to leave the visitors stunned. With three cinch Premiership fixtures remaining before the split, St Mirren are in fifth place, four points ahead of Hibernian and six ahead of seventh-placed Dundee who have an extra game to play. Ahead of Saturday’s trip to eighth-placed Motherwell, O’Carroll reflected on the Rugby Park experience as he looked with optimism to a top-six finish. He said: “It was a crazy, crazy second half but from our point of view 18 bad minutes doesn’t define our season. It was a challenge for us for 18 minutes and we look back, assess it, look at the goals, how we can do things better. But I think these boys have earned the right to have a bad half or 20 minutes. They have been so consistent all season and even if it was a 2-2 or a 2-1 win, we would assess the goals accordingly, we would look at where we could improve and what we could do better in terms of game management but it is one of those that you put to bed.”



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