Rumour Mill: Pele praises Brendan Rodgers | Thompson called “coward” by O’Neill | Sbargia quits Scotland U-21s

Brazilian great Pele has praised Brendan Rodgers, Alan Thompson says he was faced with a furious Martin O’Neill after his Old Firm sending off and Ricky Sbargia has quit as Scotland Under-21 coach.

Pele praise for Brendan Rodgers

Brazilian legend Pele has praised Celtic manager for his abilities as a manager and in particular his handling of Luis Suarez during his time at Liverpool.

“I think Celtic are very lucky to have a manager with the qualities of Brendan,” Pele was quoted as saying.

“Luis Suarez was a really good player when he went to Liverpool but I believe Brendan gave him great coaching, guidance and advice and made him a better player and a better person.

“Suarez was prepared well for his move from Liverpool to Barcelona after working under Brendan. Celtic have a good reputation around the world – and have a good manager.” (Various)

Ian Durrant fears Celtic can win nine in a row

Ian Durrant believes defeat for Rangers at Celtic Park on Saturday will serve to confirm the hosts’ view that a sixth successive championship is nailed on and the former Ibrox midfielder fears the Parkhead side could then go on to win eight or nine titles in a row. (Scotsman)

– Former Celtic midfielder Alan Thompson believes Rangers’ Joey Barton is susceptible to being wound up in his first Old Firm game on Saturday.

Since signing for the Ibrox club in the summer the 34-year-old midfielder has made public comments about the Parkhead club and its personnel, perhaps most notably when declaring that Celtic captain Scott Brown is “nowhere near his level”.

– Willie Collum will take charge of refereeing for Saturday’s Old Firm match

– Rangers assistant manager David Weir says that he and Mark Warburton will preach to the squad to stay in control in the clash with Celtic.

– Alan Thompson says he was called a coward by Martin O’Neill after his sending off during Celtic’s 5 – 1 loss to Rangers in November 2000

– Celtic legend John Hartson has described Saturday’s Old Firm derby as ‘a Leigh Griffiths game’ as he backed the striker to star against Rangers on his way to usurping him as the last Hoops marksman to hit a century of goals.

– Former Rangers boss Alex McLeish says the pressure is more on Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers.

“Brendan will be absolutely aware that he has to win this one. I know there`s more pressure on Celtic to win the league this season than Rangers.”

– Celtic pair Leigh Griffiths and Kieran Tierney are expected to be fit for Saturday’s match

Colts teams could be allowed into league

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster has refused to rule out Premiership “colt” clubs joining the league after hailing their participation in the Irn-Bru Cup as a success.

However, he has emphasised that any proposals must suit Scottish football as a whole, not just the Old Firm. (Scotsman)

Ricky Sbragia quits as Scotland U-21 boss

Ricky Sbragia has quit as coach of the Scotland Under-21 team following the side’s 4-0 loss to Ukraine. The defeat in Kiev ended the young Scots’ slim hopes of qualifying for the finals and saw them slip to fifth place in their qualifying group with just eight points from eight matches. (Scotsman) is the online edition of Scotland's favourite newspapers, that brings you your Daily news. Every day we bring you the best in Scottish news, sport, entertainment and opinion, including breaking news, picture galleries, videos and live blogs.

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