Warnock evasive on Aberdeen scenario, major Shankland Hearts update, Celtic transfer, McGinn Villa exit revelation, Hibs 'better team for Rangers' - football news

A round-up of the major news stories across Scottish football this Thursday evening

Warnock avoids exit talk

Neil Warnock hopes the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup quarter-finals can be a turning point for Aberdeen as he evaded questions over whether defeat could spell the end of his short tenure. The Dons are without a cinch Premiership victory in 10 games, six of them under Warnock, and sit 10th in the table, four points above the danger zone. The chances of a top-six finish look all but over with sixth-placed Hibs seven points better off with five matches left until the split. The cup looks to be the only way Aberdeen can enjoy any remaining success but they host a Kilmarnock side who have won all three league meetings between the teams this season. A cup exit could conceivably leave either or both the board and the 75-year-old considering whether there is anything he can do to transform their fortunes. When that scenario was put to Warnock, the manager said: “I think it’s hypothetical that, really. I think you have got to ask me that if and when it happens. All I’m concentrating on is trying to be positive and to get a result against Kilmarnock on Saturday. I think that’s all you can do. You can’t get dragged into what ifs.”

Bernabei leaves Celtic

Neil Warnock speaks to the media ahead of Aberdeen's Scottish Cup tie against Kilmarnock.Neil Warnock speaks to the media ahead of Aberdeen's Scottish Cup tie against Kilmarnock.
Neil Warnock speaks to the media ahead of Aberdeen's Scottish Cup tie against Kilmarnock.

Celtic defender Alexandro Bernabei has joined Brazilian club SC Internacional on loan for the rest of 2024. The 23-year-old has played second fiddle to Greg Taylor at left-back since arriving in the summer of 2022. He is expected to be followed out of the Celtic exit door by Liel Abada, with the winger in advanced talks with Charlotte FC over a move to the MLS.

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Midfielder set to miss Hearts clash

Hearts are unlikely to have in-form midfielder Calem Nieuwenhof in their team for Monday night’s Scottish Cup tie with Morton. The Australian, who has been one of the team’s best performers this season, has a hamstring injury. His manager Steven Naismith told the Evening News: “Calem will be struggling. He has a hamstring injury. We will see how that is over the next few days. He has had a couple of days off but I would imagine Monday will be tight for him.” Hearts, however, are confident forwards Kenneth Vargas and Yutaro Oda will be fit for the trip to Greenock.

No Shankland deal close

Hearts' Calem Nieuwenhof is struggling with a hamstring injury,Hearts' Calem Nieuwenhof is struggling with a hamstring injury,
Hearts' Calem Nieuwenhof is struggling with a hamstring injury,

Hearts chairman Ann Budge says the club and Lawrence Shankland are still some way off a new contract for the Jambos talisman. Shankland’s future has been the subject of much speculation due to his magnificent form this season, with Rangers linked with the 28-year-old in January. Hearts have offered him two new deals since January but the Scotland hitman is keeping his options open. “It's not definitely close,” Budge said. “Not at all. He's still got 18 months left on his contract, there or thereabouts, so a large part of it is up to Lawrence. He's a young man and is looking at what's right for his career. He's been fantastic for us and I'd like to think we've been pretty good for him as well. So we're still talking and we'd love him to stay. But he's a man in demand, as we know. And I think that's only going to increase. It will be his decision at the end of the day."

Hibs ‘a better team now’

Hibs manager Nick Montgomery believes his team will welcome Rangers to Easter Road for their Scottish Cup quarter-final clash in much better shape than his previous two tussles with Philippe Clement’s men. Hibs were soundly beaten 4-0 at Ibrox back in October and then lost 3-0 to the Gers at home in January with the Hibs squad so stretched that night that left-back Jordan Obita was required to fill in a centre-half. “We’re definitely a better team than we were then,” said Montgomery. “The squad is in a lot better shape than it was in for both of the Rangers games this season.”

McGinn’s Aston Villa revelation

Scotland midfielder John McGinn has revealed he thought his time was up at Aston Villa and that he looked at potential options away from the Midlands outfit. The 29-year-old feared that when Unai Emery took over in 2022, with McGinn’s form at a low ebb, he may have to leave the EPL club. “I thought I was done,” said the ex-Hibs player. “You kind of have a feeling as a player, at the time the supporters thought I was honking, I had just come out of the team and the team was doing well for a couple of games. You’re not stupid as a footballer, you think 'right, you might start having to look elsewhere', which I did. I spoke to the manager. He had every stat, every detail on his notepad, times of appearances I had played for St Mirren, Hibs, goals. Then he asked what my preferred position was and I just said not on the bench. I think he was getting a gauge on why I hadn't been playing so well, he then brought up the Scotland goals. Why are you scoring this for Scotland and not Aston Villa? Maybe a thank you to Steve Clarke putting me higher up the pitch because I said I play here for Scotland, a right-10, right-wing, which I hadn't done before. Steve Clarke showed a bit of faith and I started getting some goals. From there he said, before we played Man United, he said you might play, might not. Next game I was on the bench! I came on and the next game I started. Ever since then I have played the majority of the game which has been good.”