McCoist pleased with progress
Queens Park Rangers have admitted to holding an interest in
former Aston Villa defender Richard Dunne.
The Republic of Ireland international is available as a free
agent after departing Villa Park.
QPR are in the market for an experienced centre-half, having
offloaded Chris Samba back to Anzhi Makhachkala.
Dunne would fit the bill, as Harry Redknapp prepares his side
for life in the Championship.
No deal has been agreed as yet, but QPR chief executive Phil
Beard admits there is a desire on their part to bring the
33-year-old on board.
He said in the Fulham Chronicle: “He’s not signed yet but he’s a
player that Harry would like to bring to the club.
“We’re looking at a number of players. The main thing is that
they want to play for the club and are ready for the Championship,
which is very different to the Premier League.”
Celtic kick off their European campaign in Belfast on Wednesday
night, less than eight weeks after closing their season with a
William Hill Scottish Cup final victory over Hibernian.
Lennon’s preparations have been far from ideal – Celtic conceded
12 goals as they lost all four of their friendlies during a stint
The former Northern Ireland captain has seen midfielder Victor
Wanyama leave for Southampton and fears striker Gary Hooper, who
has been struggling with a groin problem, has played his last game
for the club as he seeks to join the Kenyan in England.
Nigeria defender Efe Ambrose will miss the clash on the
artificial surface at Cliftonville’s Solitude ground after being
given extra time off following the Confederations Cup.
Welsh pair Joe Ledley and Adam Matthews are expected to miss out
through injury while trialist defender Steven Mouyokolo has still
to sign a contract, and the likes of Scott Brown, James Forrest,
Charlie Mulgrew and new signing Virgil van Dijk have all missed
part of the friendly action through injury.
Lennon has already raised the prospect of facing extra-time
against Cliftonville at Celtic Park in the second leg and he admits
they will need to dig deep against the Danske Bank Premiership
Lennon told Celtic TV: “It’s so early, it’s a harsh reality of
where we are.
“We won the cup final at the end of May and we are back in on
the 24th of June.
“It’s been staggered and a bit disjointed because we have had a
lot of injuries as well.
“Matthews, Ledley, Twardzik and Hooper have hardly featured and
obviously we have lost Victor.
“They are the ups and downs you have to cope with during
pre-season but I don’t think you’ll see us anywhere near our best
for another two weeks or so.”
Celtic closed their German trip with a 3-0 defeat against
second-tier side Union Berlin on Friday night and are back at
Lennoxtown on Monday before flying to Belfast the day after.
“The trip has been about fitness,” Lennon said. “The results
have been disappointing but the real work starts Monday.”
Meanwhile, Wanyama thanked everyone at Celtic as he departed
Glasgow to begin his new career at Southampton following his
The 22-year-old told Sky Sports News: “Celtic have been good to
me and the fans have been great. To be honest it was hard leaving
them, but I wish them all the best.
“I had a good time with them. I want to thank them for the time
I was there. They were really good to me and hopefully one day we
will be back.
“I think Celtic have played a big part in my improvement and I
just thank the manager and the players. It was really good and I
enjoyed playing for Celtic.”
And, while he is loath to make predictions about how that will
affect their form when the campaign starts, he has been encouraged
by all facets of their approach.
Rangers secured their third friendly win this summer when they
beat Bristol City thanks to Lewis MacLeod’s solitary goal
yesterday, with most of their seven summer signings taking part
before the squad flew to Germany for a training camp.
Last year McCoist’s men were hampered by a signing embargo and
an inability to play official friendlies before provisionally
securing Scottish Football Association membership less than 48
hours before facing Brechin in their domestic opener.
McCoist, whose side were criticised for their fitness levels on
their way to the Third Division title, told the club’s official
website: “Last year everyone was just thrown in together with no
real organisation, no games and certainly not the training schedule
we’d have wanted for them.
“This time it is very different and everyone is getting to know
each other. We’re still in the early stages but everyone is
benefiting from the way things are going.
“I’m not going to tempt fate in terms of results but, looking at
our preparations, it’s like night and day between last summer and
“We’re miles ahead of where we were going into the season last
July and you can see that.
“Our fitness levels are far greater and I’m really pleased with
how things are going.”
McCoist is hoping to tie up a deal for trialist Bilel Mohsni
while the club are also looking to secure Bosnia centre-back Boris
But he feels his young players are already responding well to
the increased competition.
“Lewis is standing out and Kyle Hutton is doing some top-drawer
stuff at the moment,” he said.