Scottish Premier League

Lawwell calms fears over exits

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Thu, 07 Mar 2013 17:57:00

Bolton manager Dougie Freedman felt Medo Kamara came through a tough derby baptism against Blackburn with flying colours.

The 25-year-old former Partizan Belgrade man made his first start since joining Wanderers on January transfer deadline day and Freedman was impressed with his display alongside Jay Spearing at the heart of midfield.

"I thought he was excellent," he said. "It's difficult for him to adjust to the pace - that's his first game since November and it's a derby game.

"I do like to throw them in at the deep end and I thought he was thrown into the middle of the ocean because it's a huge game for him.

"He just got on with it. He looked as if he'd been here for a long time, he moved the ball well.

"We knew Blackburn would come with a game plan and play very deep and sit in there, so we had to be patient and I though Spearing and him looked a good partnership in there."

Green has been looking at options including cross-border leagues, which have been on the agenda within UEFA, and securing entry to English football.

Green, who relaunched Rangers in the Irn-Bru Third Division last summer after the club was consigned to liquidation, told talkSPORT: "With what has happened to us in Scotland, I've had enough indications that Scottish football don't like or don't want Rangers, so I look at other options.

"There's been lots of press and lots of discussions. I have taken legal counsel, because let's really be clear - it is a breach of European competition law to deny Scottish clubs, not just Rangers, any clubs, the right to play in England. That is against European law.

"I don't believe that the authorities would stand back and try to ignore that position.

"You just explain to me why a Welsh club can play in the English league but a Scottish club can't."

Green, speaking on the Keys and Gray show, refused to answer directly when pressed several times on whether he had held talks with the Football Conference, whose clubs have discussed the issue.

Green said: "We are taking further legal advice. It is not the day to deal with that but I would be delighted to be the chief executive of Rangers that took them into the English league."

He added: "I don't believe that even if there was a will, it would be right for Rangers to go in at the top.

"There's no sporting integrity to do that and that's why we accepted going into the third division in Scotland.

"This club is proud. We don't want anyone to grant us any favours or any privileges."

Rangers are likely to remain in Scottish football in the near future at least and Green believes the issue of club finances needs to be addressed amid concern over Hearts and Dunfermline.

Hearts are still waiting to discover the full effect of Vladimir Romanov's financial collapse while Dunfermline have warned they face a battle for survival amid chronic cash flow problems.

Green said: "Believe me, no-one can ever recover like Rangers did. There is no-one else big enough and what Scottish football has to do now is help each club to survive.

"Without having other teams strong and financially sound, there won't be a league, and that's what we have to address now."

The 23-year-old arrives with the U's leading goalscorers Jabo Ibehre and Freddie Sears currently sidelined by suspension and injury respectively.

Hewitt has made one substitute appearance for QPR to date and spent a brief spell on loan at Dagenham last season, although his most first-team experience has come this term having made 12 appearances for League One rivals Bury, during which he found the net twice.

The striker is available to make his debut in Saturday's home clash against Crewe.

Saints have earned rave reviews for the easy-on-the-eye pressing game employed by the Argentinian since he controversially replaced Nigel Adkins at the helm in January.

However, for all the plaudits, Pochettino has overseen just one victory in his six matches at the helm.

While the victory over reigning champions Manchester City was impressive, the Southampton manager was more concerned with lackadaisical performances like the one that saw bottom-placed QPR take three points from St Mary's last weekend.

"We can't get really ahead of ourselves," Pochettino said, speaking ahead of this weekend's trip to Norwich. "We need to take every game as it comes.

"The game against Manchester City seems quite tough and difficult, but we did manage it quite well.

"Instead, games that could have been easier, like QPR, we have had problems in.

"At the end of the day, what is most important is that the team finds a regularity in terms of the mental aspect.

"In a tactical manner and a way of proposing football, the team is playing in a regular way over these last six games.

"We just need to find our regular way of playing in a collective and individual manner, which was perhaps missing against QPR."

Last weekend's 2-1 home defeat to QPR means Southampton head to Carrow Road looking to avoid a third successive defeat.

That slump leaves Pochettino's side just four points above the drop zone and in danger of an immediate return to the npower Championship.

"We're disappointed that we didn't get any points from the games against Newcastle and QPR," Pochettino said.

"Even though we were better than them and played better than them, we still left with nothing from both games.

"This week overall we've fought very hard and also thought about what we need to address from the two games.

"We have to carry on the way that we've been playing because we've been playing very well and in games we've been playing better than our rivals.

"Looking back on QPR, the two chances they were able to get they scored two goals, that's just not on and it's something that we need to address and we've all accepted that those kind of mistakes cannot happen at all.

"My line of thinking is to keep going with our own philosophy of playing football and being a lot more effective in terms of scoring goals for ourselves, and nullifying other teams and their goal scoring opportunities."

January signing Vegard Forren could make his first appearance for the first-team at Norwich after featuring for the Under-21s against Liverpool on Monday.

Saints captain Adam Lallana is likely to overcome a knock to feature, although Danny Fox, recalled by Scotland national team today, may miss out.

Manager Neil Lennon admitted it would be difficult to keep his squad together following their run to the last 16 of the Champions League, after their European adventure ended with a 2-0 defeat by Juventus in Turin on Wednesday night.

The key players who are most expected to move on are versatile midfielder Victor Wanyama and striker Gary Hooper, who attracted several bids from Norwich in January and is approaching the final year of his contract.

But Lawwell is keen to ensure that Lennon can hit the ground running when Celtic's next Champions League campaign begins.

As such, he does not look like sanctioning widespread departures - and promised to provide adequate replacements for those that do leave.

Lawwell told Sky Sports News: "I think inevitably there will be one or two players that will probably want to move on.

"But stability is a very important thing in football so we would hope to get the balance right, to make sure that there is some quality coming in that may replace those that are going, but keeping a real balance in terms of stability and continuity going into, hopefully, the qualifiers next July."

Lawwell also recognised that his manager's stock has risen from their run to the knockout stages, despite a 5-0 aggregate defeat by a clinical Juve side.

Lawwell said: "It's been a great season so far. The Champions League has been wonderful - wonderful for Celtic and wonderful for the players and for Neil.

"Clearly, we are not naive enough to think that people won't be recognising that elsewhere.

"If he keeps progressing and being successful, I'm sure he will be courted at some point.

"But Celtic is a big part of Neil Lennon and maybe he won't be able to get elsewhere what he gets here at Celtic.

"We are hoping that he stays for a long, long time."

Celtic's European run began with qualifying victories over HJK Helsinki and Helsingborgs and progressed beyond anyone's realistic expectations.

Lennon's team went to Spartak Moscow and secured Celtic's first away win in the Champions League proper. They came within seconds of gaining a point in the Nou Camp before stunning Barcelona with a 2-1 victory at Celtic Park.

And they kept their nerve to qualify for the knockout stages with victory over Spartak in an anxious final group game before pushing Juventus at Parkhead following an early setback.

Lawwell said: "It was a long haul going into the qualifiers. To a great extent we were going into the unknown, it was a new young team that hadn't been tried at that level.

"They performed magnificently - they took on Europe's best and performed at a very, very high level."

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