Scotland aiming for first Six Nations win

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Scotland are yet to win a match this Six Nations. (Credit: David Ronney)

Scotland will look to pick up their first win of the 2019 Women’s Six Nations when they host Wales at Scotstoun tonight.

Shade Munro’s side have lost three out of three so far this campaign, but the match against Wales presents a realistic chance for the Scots to pick up a much-needed victory.

Tonight’s visitors sit one place above Scotland, having drawn once and lost twice in their three games so far. Rowland Phillips’s Welsh side held high-flying Italy last time out, and they’ll be looking to continue that momentum into the game in Glasgow.

Ahead of tonight’s game, Scotland have made four changes from the 41-10 defeat to France. The most notable change being Mhiari Grieve being brought in at scrum-half following Sarah Law’s injury.

As for Wales, Lleucu George gets the nod at centre. Lauren Smyth has also been drafted in, and joins George in the backline.

Kick-off tonight is at 7.35pm.

 

Wighton hoping to benefit from Naismith absence

Craig Wighton

Wighton is looking for a fresh start after injury (Credit: Luke Barry)

Heart of Midlothian striker Craig Wighton is looking to break into the starting line-up ahead of tomorrow’s match against Dundee.

Team-mate Steven Naismith is set to be out for eight to 10 weeks with a recurring knee injury, and whilst Wighton knows that he’ll be a big miss for the club, he believes that the hole can be filled.

“[Naismith] has done a lot for us this season, with the amount of goals he’s got,” Wighton said.

“Obviously he’s already missed a few games this season, and we missed him a lot during that period, so it’s a big task for all the forwards to replace him.

 

“But we’ve got a lot of good players; Uche, Macca, Vanacek and Keena as well. There’s a lot of competition here, but I think for any team, they would miss a player like ‘Naisy’.

“But all the forwards have got to think that [we can take his place]. He’s a big player for us, but we’ve got some important games coming up, so it’s a big opportunity.

“We all need to start chipping in with goals.”

Injury and lack of form has meant that Wighton has been limited to only nine league appearances so far this season. He’s become almost a forgotten man at Tynecastle, something that he accepts, but he insists that he’s ready to make a new start at the club.

“It does a bit [feel like starting again],” he admitted.

“I feel like I’m in better shape than when I first came here.

“I’ve had a few games back-to-back, which I haven’t had for a while. Even though it’s reserves football, it’s good to get these games under your belt to get up to speed.

“I’m feeling sharp now and if I do get called upon, then I’ll be ready.”

Tomorrow’s match will see Wighton return to Dundee, a club he knows very well. He came through the academy at the Tayside club, before leaving them to join Hearts last August.

The 21-year-old admits that he is shocked to see his old side battling relegation this season.

“I am [surprised at Dundee’s position in the league table],” he said.

“Obviously it’s almost a completely different squad to when I left – I don’t know many of the players that are there now – but I’ve seen them a couple of times this season and they’ve been decent.

“But it’s hard to get a good run of games when you’re in that position. It’s a big game on Saturday, so we’ll be looking to go there and get the three points.

“I appreciate everyone that Dundee did of me during my career but I’m at Hearts now. If I get an opportunity on Saturday, I’ll be looking to score.”

Alfredo Morelos pens new deal at Rangers

 

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Colombian striker Alfredo Morelos has signed a new deal at Rangers, remaining at the club until 2023.

The 22-year-old has scored 28 goals in 41 appearances in all competitions so far this season for the Glasgow club. He is also the top goalscorer in the Scottish Premiership, netting 16 times.

Morelos had signed a new contract in September, but has added an extra year onto his deal today.

He has been subject to interest from many clubs across Europe.

“They have been terrific for me and always back me which makes me want to score for them and then celebrate with them. I want to score many more goals for them, Rangers, and the manager, who has helped me so much, before this season ends.”

Most recently, he has been linked with Leicester City, where ex-Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has just taken over.

Morelos is pleased to be extending his stay in Glasgow however.

“It did not take me long to agree this extension because my career has progressed quicker and better than I could have expected when I joined this great club,” he said in a statement.

“I have come to realise just how special Rangers is and what it means to so many people around the world. Also, I feel a strong connection with the fans and they have made me feel special.”

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard was equally excited that Morelos had chosen to commit his future to the club.

“It’s always important at big clubs like this one to make sure your top players are secured long term,” the former Liverpool midfielder said.

“Alfredo has been excellent for Rangers and his scoring record tells you he is in tune with what we are trying to achieve.

“He is a competitive individual and he is a winner. He is what Rangers needs and it is pleasing that Alfredo feels so much at home with us that he is willing to commit.”

Morelos will be looking to add to his 16 league goals tonight, when Rangers travel to the capital to face Hibernian. Kick-off is at 7.45pm.

Uche Ikpeazu inks new Hearts deal until 2022

Uche Ikpeazu

Ikpeazu will remain at Hearts until 2022 (Credit: Luke Barry)

Heart of Midlothian forward Uche Ikpeazu has signed a two-year contract extension at Tynecastle.

The Englishman, who joined the club last summer, will remain at the Edinburgh club until 2022.

The striker has recently returned from a five month lay-off following a foot injury, and has been in fine form since.

The 24-year-old insisted that it was an easy decision to commit his future to Hearts.

“This club has given me a great platform to improve. I love the club, the fans, the city and my teammates as well,” he said.

“I genuinely think I’m improving and getting back to my best. I feel I’m back playing really good now.

“I feel confident and it’s just the goals to come, really. Now is the right time to extend my contract here because I feel the love from the management, the staff and the fans.”

Ikpeazu will be looking to net his first goal for the club since August tomorrow when Hearts face relegation battlers Dundee at Dens Park.

Podcast: Rodgers out, Lennon in at Celtic

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Rodgers made a shock move to Leicester this week (Credit: Leicester City)

On Tuesday, Brendan Rodgers left Celtic to join Premier League side Leicester City, sparking anger and anguish amongst the Celtic supporters.

Neil Lennon has since returned to manage the side for a second time, on a deal until the end of the season.

Fraser Munro, Bryce Donaldson and Luke Barry join John Menzies to discuss the situation that has dominated Scottish football this week.

 

 

 

Kingsford Stadium given judicial green light

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Kingsford Stadium (Credit: kingsfordstadium.co.uk)

Aberdeen’s plans for a new £50m stadium have been given a legal go-ahead, following a judicial review.

The 20,000-seater development, proposed for Kingsford, near Westhill, is to replace Pittodrie, which has been home to the Dons since their formation in 1903.

Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne said: “The outcome of the judicial review is welcome news for the club, the Council and the wider region.

“We can now confidently complete phase one, the community sports hub and training facilities, and start moving towards delivery of phase two, AFC’s new stadium.

“Following today’s decision, we will reach out to the whole community, even those who have objected to the plans, so that we can work positively with them to deliver a community sports hub that meets their aspirations, best-in-class football training facilities and, ultimately, a stadium that the whole region can be proud of.”

Manager Derek McInnes was pleased that the process can continue, he stated: “We were always confident that the judicial review would be unsuccessful, it’s great to get it confirmed and we can crack on with Phase I.

“Of course I want to be part of the new facilities, the players deserve to be working with better than we are currently.”

The club’s plans to build the new stadium surfaced in 2017, and the council approved them in January 2018. Construction began in July, and is expected to move forward, although the case may yet go to the Supreme Court.

A spokesperson for Aberdeen City Council said: “We note the outcome of the judicial review and welcome the court’s ruling that a robust planning process was followed in determining the application.”

Scotland v Canada: Algarve Cup Preview

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Scotland Women’s National Team (Credit: SNS Group)

 

Scotland kick off their 2019 Algarve Cup campaign this afternoon when they play Canada in Lagos.

Shelley Kerr‘s side will appear at the invitational tournament for the first time since 2002, ahead of appearing at their first ever Women’s World Cup this summer.

The Scotland head coach will look to use this tournament as a confidence booster for her side, who have lost their last three games. In fact, they haven’t won since defeating Albania in September, a result that booked their place at the World Cup in France.

Another boost for the women’s side was the funding from the Scottish Government for the team to train full time in the months leading up to this summer’s tournament.

The Canadians, who are ranked fifth in the world rankings, drew 0-0 with Iceland in the opening match in Group A.

A win for Scotland would put them top of the group.

Kick-off is at 2.15pm local time (1.15pm UK time) and live on BBC Sport website.

SPFL Team of the Month – February 2019

Spring is finally here. February is over, and it was a month full of drama in the Scottish Premiership. This is EN4News’ Team of the Month for February.

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GK – Scott Bain (Celtic)

Kept three clean sheets in five games, conceding only twice. Made some big saves, including from Sean Clare in the crucial 2-1 victory over Hearts on Wednesday. It appears now that he won the number one spot from fellow Scotland international, Craig Gordon.

RB – James Tavernier (Rangers)

Netted five goals in February, four of which were penalties. The Englishman now has 13 goals for the season, a remarkable feat for a defender. He also helped the club to four clean sheets in the league for February.

CB – Darren McGregor (Hibernian)

One of the men to have improved massively since the appointment of Paul Heckingbottom. McGregor has been solid in the previous three matches, of which Hibs have won all three.

CB – Connor Goldson (Rangers)

Goldson has been immense since returning from injury at the start of the month, with Rangers conceding only twice in the four games he has played. He has formed a solid partnership with fellow Englishman, Joe Worrall.

LB – Borna Barisic (Rangers)

The Croatian fullback was a menace down the left-hand-side for the Glasgow club in February, as well as being a part of the defence that conceded only twice in five games in the month.

RM – Jake Hastie (Motherwell)

The teenager was a revelation for the Lanarkshire side in February. Since returning from spending the first half of the season on loan at Alloa Athletic, Hastie has scored four goals in as many games. Understandably, the Well fans have been very excited by the 19-year-old’s recent performances.

CM – Scott Brown (Celtic)

The veteran midfielder produced some big moments for the Parkhead side last month, which included netting the winner against Kilmarnock and providing the assist for Odsonne Edouard’s winning goal against Hearts at Tynecastle.

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CM – David Turnbull (Motherwell)

The teenager has been one of the breakthrough stars of the season, and February was another great month for Turnbull. A number of dominating midfield performances were produced, and he netted a last minute winner against Hearts.

LM – Stephen Mallan (Hibernian)

Mallan has been phenomenal since Heckingbottom took over at Easter Road. He’s looked in as good form as he was in at the start of the season, and Hibs fans will hope he can continue that form into the remainder of the season.

ST – Odsonne Edouard (Celtic)

The Frenchman netted a crucial winner against Hearts on Wednesday, as well as netting twice in a 4-1 win over Motherwell, a match that turned out to be Brendan Rodgers’ final game in charge of the Hoops. He also secured all three points at Tynecastle with a late strike in the first match under returning boss, Neil Lennon.

ST – Marc McNulty (Hibernian)

McNulty has been in scintillating form of late, netting five goals in three games. Hibs’ striker problems have been a thing of the past since he joined in January on loan from Reading. And with form like this, the Hibees will hope to retain his services beyond this season.

Click here to view January’s team of the month.

Murray wary of Raith threat

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Murray’s only focus is tomorrow’s match against Raith (Credit: Luke Barry)

Hibernian assistant coach Grant Murray says Hibs must “respect” Raith Rovers in tomorrow’s Scottish Cup fifth round tie.

Hibs are two divisions higher than Raith in league football, but Murray emphasised that his players need to focus on winning tomorrow as the Kirkcaldy club will go into the game tomorrow believing that they can pull off a surprise.

“We’ve got to be wary of Raith. They’re winning games of football, they’re scoring goals. And like us, their attention will turn to the cup,” he said.

“We have to respect them. But we’ve also got to focus on our own game, stamp our own authority and hope that we play good enough football on the day to get us through.”

Hibs have lost their previous two league games against Aberdeen and Celtic, but Murray believes the club most put all their attention into tomorrow’s match and focus on a strong cup run.

“It’s the most important game for us because it’s the only game we can affect at the weekend.

“I said that to the players, we have to turn our attention away from the league because we can’t do anything about it this weekend. The only game we can win is the game tomorrow against Raith Rovers.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to progress and get into the quarter-finals of the cup. It’s up to us, as the coaching staff, to have them ready, and make sure that they go and take that opportunity. But it won’t be easy – no game is easy.”

Tomorrow’s match will see Murray come up against his former club, as well as his former boss. The 43-year-old worked with John McGlynn at both Heart of Midlothian and Raith but while the Hibs coach accepted that he has some great times under McGlynn’s stewardship, that friendship goes out the window for tomorrow’s game.

 

“John [McGlynn] came in as a youth coach at Hearts when I had just got myself into the first team, so I didn’t work with him that much. But I worked with him whenever we came to do things with the first team.

“And then he took me to Raith Rovers at the tail end of my career, and I had a great time there. We had some great days, notably in the Scottish Cup.

“But that gets put aside tomorrow when three o’clock comes. My only focus is on doing what’s right for this football club, which is getting us into the next round.”

 

Ten people dead after Flamengo training ground fire

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Flamengo are one of the biggest clubs in Brazil (Credit: Getty Images)

A fire has broken out at the youth team training centre of one of Brazil’s biggest football clubs this morning, killing 10 people.

Three people including one teenager were also injured when the blaze spread at Ninho de Urubu, the training ground of Flamengo football club, in Rio de Janeiro.

No victims have currently been named, while police are investigating the cause of the blaze.

In a tweet posted on the club’s official Twitter account today, the club has said that they are “in mourning”.

According to local media, all ten of those who died are believed to be young athletes.

Former Brazilian football Ronaldinho, who played for Flamengo between 2011 and ’12,  offered his condolences for the “terrible tragedy” while Pele described the club as “a place where young people pursue their dreams.”

 

 

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