Rangers' rearguard worries, Celtic newcomers impress, Dundee start well

Harry Forrester set up Rangers' equaliser on Saturday
The lively Forrester set up Rangers' equaliser on Saturday

The reality check of an opening day draw at home to Hamilton, as the curtain went up on the SPFL season, will surely have Rangers stepping up their search for defensive improvements.

There are problems to be addressed elsewhere in the team. Harry Forrester's arrival from the bench, and the cut and thrust which carved out the Ibrox equaliser, exposed some of the ponderous play earlier in the game which saw Rangers often bogged down in midfield prior to the substitute's introduction.

There's clearly work to be done to get the best out of Joey Barton, Nico Kranjcar and Andy Halliday who all have a desire to orchestrate from the centre circle.

More worrying, though, were the uncomfortable moments at the back against a team which is not exactly rich in attacking options.

These are early days but the Rangers defence was too easily troubled and the recruitment of a quality defender has to be at the top of Mark Warburton's wish list.

Accies academy to be applauded

Hamilton drew 1-1 at Ibrox on Saturday
Hamilton worked hard to match Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday

The football factory at New Douglas Park keeps on churning out top talent. Probably to the embarrassment of some bigger budget academies.

Previously in this long-running success story, James McCarthy, James McArthur, Brian Easton and Stephen Hendrie came through the youth system, starred in the top team and made big money moves down south.

They've served as role models for others who see a clear pathway to first team football in signing for Accies just as long as they're good enough.

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Scottish Premiership opening weekend goals round-up

Weekend goal hero Ali Crawford has grown up at the club. Grant Gillespie, like Crawford aged 25, defended superbly against livewire Rangers winger Barrie McKay. Home-produced Mikey Devlin, at 22, is the captain.

Ten of the 18 who donned the red and white hoops on Saturday were Made in Hamilton. That's something to shout about.

Celtic new boys make their mark

Kolo Toure and Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers
Toure had a solid game at the heart of the Celtic defence on Sunday

It seems that Brendan Rodgers knows what he's doing. The Celtic manager's three signings so far have all had an early impact and, crucially, there are a couple more to come.

Former Swansea, Manchester City and Aston Villa winger Scott Sinclair was still trying to memorise the names of his new team-mates as he tapped in the Tynecastle match-winner to get Celtic's title defence off to a winning start.

Young Frenchman Moussa Dembele's first Celtic goal was that ice-cool penalty conversion which took his team a step closer to the Champions League group stage.

Veteran defender Kolo Toure played the last half hour of that European win plus all 90 minutes of the Premiership defeat of Hearts and his experience in the backline looks like an important ingredient.

Rodgers knows, though, he'll need to add even more quality to his squad if he's to extend the domestic dominance as promised and make Celtic a name to note in Europe again.

Dundee can cope without strike duo

Greg Stewart and Kane Hemmings
Stewart and Hemmings scored 36 goals between them last season

Who needs that dynamic duo of Greg Stewart and Kane Hemmings? Well, let's be honest, Dundee would love to still have both on board but, if it is to be a double departure, the early indications are Paul Hartley and his team will manage just fine.

Last season's top-scorer Hemmings has gone already to Oxford. I would love to think that the Dark Blues could cling on to stylish Stewart for another season but it would surely be one of the surprises of the summer if they didn't get the sort of offer they couldn't possibly refuse.

Stewart didn't feature against Ross County in Dingwall at the weekend and Dundee still won in style. Rory Loy scored a double in the 3-1 win and he'll relish the opportunity to start more often.

Former Dunfermline goal machine Faissal El Bakhtaoui is an eye-catching signing.

Clearly, Hemmings and Stewart if he goes are hard to replace but Dundee have a good gaffer. In Hartley they should trust.

Cairney on course for a cap?

Fulham captain Tom Cairney
Cairney impressed as Fulham opened with a home win against Newcastle

On Friday night I discovered that a) Fulham skipper Tom Cairney is Scottish and b) he could soon be knocking on the door of Gordon Strachan's squad.

He was man-of-the-match against Newcastle at Craven Cottage on the opening night of the English Championship season, playing alongside former Dundee midfielder Kevin McDonald.

And let's not kid ourselves that the second tier in England is too low a level for our requirements. Especially with Scotland regulars Grant Hanley and Matt Ritchie playing in that losing Newcastle team.

Cairney, born in Nottingham with a Scottish father, played half a dozen times a few years back for the Scotland Under21s.

The 25-year-old has a lovely left foot, dictated the play as Fulham got their season off to a winning start, and has to be worth a look ahead of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

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