Scottish Gossip: Hearts, Celtic, Rangers

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FOOTBALL GOSSIP

Hearts head coach Ian Cathro has defended Sam Nicholson after the midfielder was accused of spitting at an assistant referee in the defeat by St Johnstone.

"We will look at the footage," says Cathro of Nicholson's actions and subsequent red card. "But my understanding from Sam and the players around the situation is there is no way of being able to read that as an aggressive thing." (Various)

Rangers boss Pedro Caixinha admits it's win or bust for his side at Pittodrie on Sunday, with Aberdeen holding a 12-point lead over the Ibrox outfit in second place in the Premiership. (Various)

Brendan Rodgers has defended changing his Celtic starting XI following the draw with Partick Thistle, with a Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers on the horizon.

Hearts' Sam Nicholson was sent off in the defeat by St Johnstone
Ian Cathro has defended Sam Nicholson (right) following the midfielder's dismissal

"After the weekend [home game against Kilmarnock] our next peak is the semi-final," says Rodgers. "So that's what we're building towards." (Various)

Celtic have sent a scout to watch Romanian's answer to Frank Lampard: Steaua Bucharest Ovidiu Popescu. Steaua owner George Becali, who has inserted a £8m release clause in Popescu's contract, says: "Celtic came to watch him at the weekend and we have talked. He is the same type of player as Frank Lampard at Chelsea and will be worth £25m one day." (Daily Record)

Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson has urged the introduction of goal-line technology in Scotland's top flight after Ben Heneghan's first-half header was cleared off the line in the goalless draw with Hamilton. (Daily Record)

Steaua Bucharest's Romanian midfielder Ovidiu Popescu (left) in action against Man City
Ovidiu Popescu (left) has been described as Romania's answer to Frank Lampard

Referee Bobby Madden will be the man in the middle for Saturday's Championship match when Morton host Hibernian. The teams meet at Cappielow 10 days after managers and players clashed during the goalless draw at Easter Road. (Various)

Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic has been tipped to become one of Croatia's best defenders - by Rangers star Niko Kranjcar. "I didn't know Jozo when he was at Dinamo Zagreb, but when I saw him in Scotland I was pleasantly surprised how good he was," says fellow Croatian Kranjcar. (Scottish Sun)

Hamilton Accies midfielder Darian MacKinnon "let himself down" after being dismissed for gesturing at Motherwell supporters in the goalless draw at Fir Park, according to Accies boss Martin Canning. (Various)

OTHER GOSSIP

Russell Knox, one of two Scots [Sandy Lyle is the other] in the field in The Masters, will be aiming to shine at Augusta, after missing the cut on his debut last year. (Various)

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