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Scottish Euro flops seek domestic redemption
Published : 28 Aug 2011 07:30:09
Rangers, Celtic and Hearts return to domestic duties this weekend chastened after crashing out of the Europa League in midweek.
The trio's failure to secure their respective passages into the group stages of Europe's second tier club competition left Scotland without a single continental representative.
Celtic, who were sent packing by Sion of Switzerland, trail Rangers by a point and have the chance to put the pressure on their Old Firm rivals if they can beat St Mirren in the early kick-off on Sunday.
The Hoops slumped to a shock defeat last weekend against St Johnstone and Neil Lennon's side will want to make amends against the Paisley Buddies.
The Parkhead side will feature be Glenn Loovens and Emilio Izaguirre but Beram Kayal and Gary Hooper are fit again.
New Hearts manager Paulo Sergio will get his first taste of the Edinburgh derby as his side take on Hibernian at Tynecastle on Sunday.
With one eye on the match Sergio rested some of his key players for their Europa League match against Tottenham on Thursday which ended goalless as he took the opportunity to assess other members of his squad.
Hibs have failed to defeat Hearts in their past two encounters but will be boosted by the recent loan signing of Richie Towell from Celtic.
The full-back spent the second half of last season at loan at Easter Road and will go straight into manager Colin Calderwood's side for Sunday's derby.
Rangers host Aberdeen at Ibrox with winger Gregg Wylde setting his sights on becoming a major player for the Scottish champions after signing a new five-year contract.
The youngster is certain to be a first team regular this season after he put in some impressive performances to help the Old Firm side to the title after breaking into the Rangers side.
However, the 20-year-old has hardly featured after contract talks stalled following interest from English Premier League sides Bolton and West Bromwich Albion.
But after netting his first goal of the season against Motherwell last weekend Wylde has now committed his future to Rangers and says he aims to star at Ibrox, starting this weekend.
"I want to stay here and become a big player for the club. I never wanted to leave," Wylde said.
"I know I still have a lot to learn and the lure of England was an attraction, but to be honest staying here is even bigger at this stage in my career.
"There was talk about other clubs being interested and I know there were a couple of bids put in, but I'm just delighted to finally have the deal done and it is a huge weight off my shoulders. It means I can just concentrate on my future."
Rangers could hand a debut to midfielder Alejandro Bedoya after the American international was granted a visa but fellow recent signing, Australian Matt Mackay, won't arrive at Ibrox until September.
St Mirren v Celtic, Rangers v Aberdeen, Hearts v Hibernian