Friday headlines: Hearts broken; Special Scotland; Hibs VAR plan; Livi fan plan; Spurs death
Hearts boss Robbie Neilson advised his players to be more proactive rather than reactive on the field following a crushing 3-0 defeat by Fiorentina at Tynecastle Park. Lewis Neilson’s red card for tugging Luka Jovic’s shirt early in the second half left Hearts facing a numerical disadvantage. By then, they were 2-0 down after sitting deep in the first 45 minutes. Jovic added a third late in the game.
RFS held Istanbul Basaksehir to a 0-0 draw in Riga, but remain bottom of Group A and a point behind third-placed Hearts. West Ham have a 100% record in their group after a 1-0 win away to Anderlecht. Elsewhere, Marcus Rashford scored twice a nervy 3-2 win Europa League win for Manchester United away to Neil Lennon’s Omonia Nicosia. Arsenal beat Bodo/Glimt 3-0.
Scotland are potentially one win away from back-to-back World Cup qualifications after a towering extra-time header from ex-Hibs forward Abbi Harrison sealed a stunning 1-0 win over Austria at Hampden. It sets up a tie against the Republic of Ireland in Glasgow on Tuesday, with a place at next summer’s finals in Australia and New Zealand up for grabs.
Hibs injury blow
Hibs will be without striker Momodou Bojang and midfielder Jake Doyle-Hayes for a number of weeks. The Irish midfielder faces a spell on the sidelines with an ankle problem while Gambian forward Bojang is nursing a groin strain after doing additional ‘unsanctioned’ work, according to his manager Lee Johnson.
Hibs are already using VAR in training in a bid to familiarise themselves with the technology before its introduction to Scottish football. Hibs recently received planning permission to install technology at East Mains to aid their efforts in preparing for the arrival of VAR.
Lee Johnson feels Kyle Magennis is now capable of playing in excess of 60 minutes if required and is looking forward to seeing the midfielder bring his energetic approach to the Hibs engine room. “For me, he's a number eight who can step into the number 10 (position),” he said. “He's an all-or-nothing player who plays with his heart on his sleeve, which is why fans like him and team-mates respect him.”
Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin has been hit with an eight-game ban by the Scottish FA for comments he made about Hibs defender Ryan Porteous in the aftermath of the Dons’ 3-1 defeat at Easter Road last month. The former St Mirren boss will serve six games starting with Saturday’s trip to Tannadice to face Dundee United. Two further games will be suspended until the end of the 2022/23 campaign.
The Scottish FA has said Kilmarnock rejected the chance to bring forward Kyle Lafferty's hearing for alleged use of sectarian language. Kilmarnock boss Derek McInnes said at the weekend the club were "surprised and disappointed" the 35-year-old former Hearts striker’s SFA hearing would not be until 20 October. "The club were offered the opportunity to bring forward the date but declined to," said an SFA statement. Lafferty could be given a 10-game ban.
Livingston fans plan
Livingston have gifted more than 4,000 tickets to schools, youth and community groups for Saturday’s visit of Ross County to boost their attendance and create a better atmosphere. Livi have even handed 50 tickets to opponents Ross County to allow them to bring more young supporters to the cinch Premiership game at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Hearts B lesson
Steven Naismith says his Hearts B side is “continually learning” as the majority of his youngsters adjust to playing men’s football for the first time in the Lowland League – and he insists progress is already being made. Hearts are fourth from bottom after 13 games. “There is a big percentage of our game which is really good, it’s in those small moments that we are losing goals,” he said. “This is why the Lowland League is the best opportunity for them. It’s a harsh lesson.”
Edinburgh ‘a target’
FC Edinburgh boss Alan Maybury believes his side are now a target after going top of the League One. Ahead of Saturday's visit of Kelty Hearts to Meadowbank, Maybury said: "We're there to be shot at now so we've put that target on our back. But we're there because we deserve to be.”
Rangers third-choiuce goalkeeper Robby McCrorie has extended his contract until the summer of 2025. The 24-year-old kept clean sheets against Alashkert and Celtic in his only two first-team appearances, in August last year. McCrorie was recently called up to the Scotland squad for the Nations League finale.
Walker’s World Cup race
England right-back Kyle Walker is in a race against time to be fit for the World Cup after undergoing "successful" groin surgery. Walker was forced off in the first half of City's derby victory over Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday. No timescale has yet been put on his potential return but the club are understood to believe he still has a chance of featuring at the World Cup.
Spurs coach death
Tottenham fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone has died at the age of 61. The Italian joined Spurs alongside Antonio Conte in November 2021 and was a popular figure with the first-team squad.
Premier League players in England are set to take the knee before top-flight matches over the next two weekends as part of an anti-discrimination campaign.