Scottish Gossip: Celtic, Rangers, Sbragia, Gemmill, Aberdeen

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FOOTBALL GOSSIP

As Celtic and Rangers prepare to meet in the league on Saturday for the first time in four years, former Rangers boss Ally McCoist fears the game has the "potential to explode". He says the players have to "concentrate more" on their behaviour. (Various)

McCoist believes Celtic are "comfortably the best team in the country" and that Rangers are at least two years shy of making a title challenge. (Various)

While stopping short of saying "the result doesn't matter", McCoist argues that "we should all look forward to the game and enjoy it" because he feared there might never be another Old Firm game when Rangers slid into administration and subsequent liquidation in 2012. (Various)

McCoist quips that if a film were made of the chaos that surrounded Rangers, his role could be played by Jim Carrey - "The Mask, I've had a few of them on in the last four years." (Various)

Former Celtic defender Mark Wilson believes the Champions League nights at Celtic Park are "right up there" but that walking off after winning an Old Firm match is a "hard feeling to beat". (Daily Mail)

Derek Whyte (second from right)celebrates scoring against Rangers with Celtic team-mates John Collins (left), Lex Baillie and Andy Walker
Derek Whyte (second from right)celebrates scoring against Rangers with Celtic team-mates John Collins (left), Lex Baillie and Andy Walker

Rangers boss Mark Warburton feels the media "make such a huge thing" about the prospect of Ibrox midfielder Joey Barton coming up against Celtic counterpart Scott Brown - but points out there are 11 men in each team and says his players must "maintain composure, maintain control". (Sun)

Former Ibrox manager Walter Smith disputes the idea that Warburton will be given time to build a team to challenge Celtic. (Daily Record)

Rangers midfielder Niko Kranjcar recalls his first visit to Celtic Park - in 1998 as a fan of Dinamo Zagreb in a Champions League game which Celtic won 1-0. His dad was Dinamo Zagreb's manager. (Daily Record)

Matchroom Sports chief Barry Hearn thinks Scottish football is making a mistake to focus too greatly on the Old Firm game to promote itself. (Herald)

Andy Walker, the former Celtic striker, "guarantees" that if Celtic win the title again this season "it will be much sweeter than anything that has gone before in the last four years". (Herald)

The fitness of Celtic's free-scoring striker Leigh Griffiths could be the key difference in Saturday's Old Firm match, says Murdo MacLeod, the former Celtic midfielder and assistant manager. (National)

Scot Gemmill and Ricky Sbragia
Ricky Sbragia (right) says he always planned to move aside to allow Scot Gemmill to become the Scotland Under-21s manager

Ricky Sbragia says he is "not in the game to get praise" but "to make a difference". Sbragia has been criticised for his reign as manager of Scotland Under-21s, a position from which he resigned after Tuesday's 4-0 defeat by Ukraine ended European Championship qualifying hopes. (Daily Express)

Sbragia's replacement for the final two matches of the qualifying campaign is Scot Gemmill, who thanked his predecessor for helping him develop as coach of Scotland's Under-17s and Under-19s, and who says his task is to bring players through to Gordon Strachan's senior squad. (Various)

Former Scotland defender Stevie Nicol recalls being irritated (as a 27-year-old father of two) by national team boss Andy Roxburgh telling players to take their hands out of their pockets and to pull up their socks. (Daily Record)

Ryan Jack's knee injury, which is likely to keep him out of the Aberdeen team for six weeks, is a chance for 19-year-old midfielder James Maddison to shine after his loan move from Norwich City, believes Dons boss Derek McInnes. (Various)

Madjid Bougherra, the former Rangers central defender, says signing for Kilmarnock is one of a number of options. The 33-year-old is a free agent after leaving Al Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. (Sun, Daily Record)

Hamilton player-manager Martin Canning thinks the only thing that can have prevented clubs from trying to plunder his talented midfielder Ali Crawford is that they think he is too small. (Sun)

Winger Oliver Burke has been told by manager Ralph Hasenhutt he will have to wait to make his debut for Red Bull Leipzig after his £13m move from Nottingham Forest. "New players must earn their place in the team", he said. (Daily Record)

Alex Dunbar
Alex Dunbar could force his way into the Lions tour of New Zealand next summer, argues Alasdair Reid in the Times

Konyaspor defender Barry Douglas thinks Dundee have made a good signing in bringing Tom Hateley to Dens Park. The former Dundee United left-back played against right-sided Hateley when the pair were in Polish football and praised his "wand" with which he delivers accurate crosses into the box. (Daily Record)

Hamilton's Kosovo-born midfielder Gramoz Kurtaj says it was "really emotional" for every Kosovarian to watch their country play their first competitive match - a 1-1 draw with Finland on Sunday - and he now hopes to play for them, rather than Albania for whom he could have played because of his parents' lineage. (National, Scotsman)

OTHER GOSSIP

Andy Murray believes he let no-one down and did all he could in his US Open quarter-final five-set defeat by Japan's Kei Nishikori. (Various)

Scotland players Stuart Hogg, Richie and Jonny Gray, WP Nel, John Hardie, Mark Bennett, Greig Laidlaw, Alex Dunbar and Sean Maitland could force their way into Warren Gatland's Lions squad for their tour of New Zealand next summer. (Times)

Gatland says Gregor Townsend, who will move from coaching Glasgow Warriors to the Scotland team next June, could only join his coaching team by opting out of Scotland's tour of Australia, which is likely to overlap with that of the Lions. (Herald)

Scotland men's hockey team put 11 goals past Slovakia without reply in their World League match at Glasgow Green on Wednesday, a win that leaves them well placed to qualify for the second round. (Scotsman)

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