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1 of 003 Willie Jamieson 89 L Premier H

McStay once again missing from action


25 Feb 1995

PAUL McStay will be watching from the stand again this afternoon as his Celtic team-mates take on Hearts at Tynecastle but his manager, Tommy Burns, insisted yesterday that the Scottish internationalist has a calf injury, otherwise he would have been a contender for a starting place.

None the less, the absence of the highest paid player at the club for the third match in a row will encourage further speculation about his future after his contract ends this summer.

However, neither Burns -- nor Blackburn manager Kenny Dalglish -- would lend any substance to suggestions that the English Premiership leaders would be interested in McStay if he failed to agree a new contract.

"I have had preiminiary talks with Paul and his agent," said Burns, "but we have not got down to the nitty gritty yet.

"In any case, any discussions about his contract will not be made public by me.

I will conduct talks with the player and act in the best interests of the club."

McStay came back to the team for the match against Motherwell after suspension but then was dropped from the side to meet Hibs and was still missing from the line-up against Meadowbank Thistle in the Tennents Scottish Cup-tie last week.

"He has a calf knock which we will check in the morning but if he is not ready he will not play.

Paul has played in the past when not 100% and, although most key players have to do that at times, they get no thanks for it.

Burns will bring in another of his promising young men to the squad for Edinburgh, Gary Carberry, who has been pushing hard for a chance, but the likelihood is that he will start with the side that beat Meadowbank.

Hearts midfielder Gary Mackay cannot remember a time when his team beat Rangers and then Celtic inside a week and he would be a happy man if they managed it today, following the cup win over the Ibrox side on Monday.

However, the absence of Jim Bett and John Robertson through suspension, added to fitness doubts about Neil Berry and John Millar, make it a tough propostiion for the capital club.

"It is a chance for others to come in and show what they can do," said manager Tommy McLean, probably referring to players like Alan Johnston and Scott Leitch.

Rangers will have Basile Boli back for the visit of Kilmarnock to Ibrox as they try to prevent the Ayrshire team adding a third successive defeat to follow losses to Aberdeen in the league and Hearts in the cup.

Otherwise, the team is likely to be unchanged, with Charlie Miller, who begins a three-match suspension next week, favourite to join Gordon Durie and Brian Laudrup up front.

"We only have the championship to focus on now," said manager Walter Smith, "and we need to get back to the form we showed in November and December to make sure we keep our lead in the table.

We have to eradicate the errors that have cost us recently."

Smith hopes that the next few weeks will pass without serious injury, in which case he is confident the team can recapture the form that has taken his team to a 14-point lead as they head towards their seventh successive title.

Rangers have brought forward their league game with Falkirk at Ibrox to Saturday, March 11, because both teams are out of the cup.

Kilmarnock, who are still very much involved in that competition, will be without Tom Brown, who starts a three-game suspension, but Colin McKee will be on from the start.

Manager Alex Totten has been able to juggle his forces to great effect this season and is confident that his side can keep up an impressive run of seven games without defeat, during which they have scored 15 goals.

The Rugby Park side's fine showing in the top division has made an impact as far away as Korea where they have been invited to take part in a tournament from June 3 to 12.

"It is a great boost for our club," said Totten, "and we will be playing against teams like the Cameroon national side, a club from Brazil, and another from Belgium.

All told, eight teams will take part and we will be delighted to go, subject to SFA approval."

Falkirk, who may have to build an extension to the dressing room if they sign all the players they are chasing, will have two new men on show against Hibs at Brockville.

Ex-Motherwell pair Steve Kirk and Paul McGrillen will make their debuts and John Hughes returns after suspension.

Manager Jim Jefferies would like to try to tempt Maurice Johnston, of Hearts, to join the gang at Brockville but his chnces of success are remote.

However, he might well sort out a deal to sign Gary Mackay in due course and, even earlier, he could arrange a swop that would bring St Mirren winger David Elliot to Falkirk.

Kevin McAllister faces a fitness test for Hibs whose midfield man Michael O'Neill has recovered from a minor knee operation but will need some reserve action before coming back.

Former Aberdeen stalwart Alex McLeish takes his Motherwell team to Pittodrie where both side could do with the points.

McLeish believes Aberdeen will avoid relegation but is more concerned with his own team's performance after their cup defeat last week.

He will have new boy Eddie May in the line-up and in the squad again are Tommy Coyne, Shaun McSkimming, and former Aberden player Andy Roddie.

Aberdeen will be without John Inglis and Brian Grant but Stewart McKimmie is back after injury.

Dundee United forward Paddy Connolly has suffered a broken leg for the second time this season.

The latest crack -- in exactly the same spot -- was discovered only after a second x-ray, a fortnight after he was hurt in a reserve match against Rangers.

Connolly first broke the leg in a collision with Mike Galloway, who yesterday made his move to Leicester City permanent, during United's Coca-Cola Cup defeat by Celtic at Hampden on September 21.

United midfield men Jim McInally and Billy McKinlay face late fitness tests before the relegation battle with Partick Thistle at Tannadice.

Taken from the Herald

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