The Bulletin: Gerrard ‘Plastic pitches put careers at risk’ | Rodgers ‘We can do better in Europe’


And Clarke has claimed that hysteria surrounded Alan Power’s challenge on Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack, but admits his player could have been sent off. “I have to be honest the referee could have gone yellow or red,” admitted Clarke. “Fortunately for us he went yellow and the decision dealt with it. It [the fall-out] was a little bit over the top.”

Celtic‘s Croatian centre back Jozo Simunovic has said that he doesn;t want to play on artirficial surfaces any more. Simunovic said: “I don’t enjoy playing on these pitches, and it is not only me who feels this way. I think all players feel the same, and for me in professional football, they need to take them out. It’s very simple.”

And Rangers winger Glenn Middleton has said that he hopes that players’ concerns over artificial surfaces are taken on board. “At the end of the day it’s us who are playing on them so our opinions should be listened to,” Middleton pointed out. “These are the pitches I was playing school games on at 12 or 13 so there’s no way they should be used for Premiershipfootball.”

Rangers face a striker crisis ahead of their match against St Johnstone at Ibrox this afternoon, with Jermain Defoe and Kyle Lafferty both absent due to injury and top scorer Alfredo Morelos suspended. Gerrard inisisted his team were prepared for such an eventuality, saying: “We may have to find a different way or a different plan. We’ll see how the next few hours go and hopefully they pull through.”

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers last night vowed that Celtic will never shy away from the huge challenge they face competing with Europe’s elite despite the ever-widening gulf between the Scottish champions at the top European sides. Rodgers said: “It’s a different sport isn’t it? But we have to get on with it and just do our very, very best.”

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has insisted that the lack of competition to Celtic in the Scottish Premiership is part of the reason they were outclassed by Valencia. “They don’t get asked to defend that often and the more they get asked that question in their own league the better they’ll be in Europe,” said Keown. “They’re so dominant in their own league that some of the basics are falling away from their game.”

Hearts manager Craig Levein believes Steven Naismith could be jeopardising a once-in-a-generation opportunity to represent Scotland at a major tournament if he chooses to continue his career in the United States. Levein said: “All being well, we probably have the best opportunity as a national team to qualify for a major international tournament that we have for a very long time. I’m sure Naisy would be part of that as it stands.”

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes is confident young midfielder Lewis Ferguson will sign a contract extension at Pittodrie in the near future. “There’s no real panic on that side of it [his contract],” revealed McInnes. “We’re pretty relaxed and confident we can get Lewis extended.”

Motherwell midfielder Carl McHugh has hailed the young crop of players that have broken into the first team lately, even though they are keeping him out of the side. McHugh said: “They have no fear, they just go and play, and you see how much it means to them to play for the club because they have obviously been here for a long time.”

Partick Thistle have completed the signing of Scott McDonald on a free transfer, with the Australian contracted at Firhill until the end of the season. McDonald said: “I’m fit and ready to go. More or less the last week has been about both parties having a look [in training] and seeing if I was up to speed or not. I passed the tests, so I’m ready to go if called upon.”

The Herald’s Graeme McGarry has argued that rescheduling Partick Thistle’s Scottish Cup quarter final against Hearts to a Monday night kick-off is just the latest example of the game’s governing bodies putting the interests of broadcasters before fans once again.

In Formula One, Ferrari have unveiled their new car as Sebastian Vettel bids to become their first driver to win the title since Kimi Raikkonen in 2007.

And you can read the latest of David Smith’s exclusive columns on the Herald site today, where the former Paralympic athlete discusses preparing for radiotherapy treatment for cancer.

Elsewhere, the Scottish Sun are reporting that Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster has insisted that she never considered following Neil Lennon out of the Leith club.

And Chris Sutton has warned Brendan Rodgers that his players cannot do what he wants them to do in Europe, and says the Celtic boss must change his tactics accordingly in his column for the Daily Record.