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BACK PAGE BULLETIN: MELING CELTIC MOVE CLOSER?, £18.2m STAR HEADS FOR HOOPS, DONS NINE AND OUT, HICKEY REWARD, PORTEOUS POISED

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BIRGER MELING was booked as Rosenborg lost 2-0 to Dinamo Zagreb in the first leg of their Champions League play-off in Croatia last night.

With their future in Europe’s elite competition hanging in the balance and the threat of the loss of a cash windfall, the Norwegians could be ready to sell their 10 times-capped international left-back.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has been linked with the 24-year-old defender, as Scotzine reported, and insists he is looking for three new outfield players before the transfer deadline a week on Monday.

The Hoops gaffer has already spent £3million on Belgian Boli Bolingoli from Rapid Vienna to fill the No.3 position with the double exit of Kieran Tierney, sold for a record-breaking £25million to Arsenal, and Emilio Izaguirre, who returned to Honduras at the end of his second stint at the club.

Meling has come sharply into focus with Rosenborg on the brink of a Champions League exit and the defender’s contract expiring in December 2020.

The second leg against the Croatians who led 2-0 after 28 minutes through strikes from Bruno Petkovic and Mislav Orsic, is due on Tuesday.

FRASER FORSTER, who left Celtic in a £10million switch to Southampton in 2014, is poised for a sensational return to Parkhead.

The skyscraper keeper, 31, has dropped down the pecking order at the south coast club after agreeing a five-year contract worth £18.2million which expires in June 2022.

Forster is now third choice at the Premier League outfit after they splashed £13.5million to sign Angus Gunn from Manchester City last season with Alex McCarthy as back-up.

The former Hoops fans’ favourite won three league titles and two Scottish Cups in a four-year spell at the club under Neil Lennon who paid £2million for him in 2012 after two seasons on loan from Newcastle..

Forster made 197 appearances, as well as winning the first of his six England caps at the champions.

He will compete for the gloves with Scott Bain, 27, and Craig Gordon, 36, who is in the last year of his contract.

DEREK McINNES is satisfied with the strength in depth of his Aberdeen squad.

The Pittodrie boss brought in nine recruits in the summer – Craig Bryson, Ash Taylor, Curtis Main, Ryan Hedges, James Wilson and Funso Ojo along with loan signings Jon Gallagher, Greg Leigh and Zak Vyner.

McInnes is not planning in bringing any new players before the transfer deadline a week on Monday, but there could be at least one departure with St Johnstone still interested in signing their ex-striker Stevie May while he admitted he knew nothing about speculation linking striker Sam Cosgrove with Serie A side Lazio.

The Dons gaffer, speaking to the Press and Journal, said: “My numbers are good, regardless if Stevie is part of the squad going forward.

“Once we have a fully-fit squad, there will be enough options.

“We have utilised the budget the best way possible by bringing in nine new signings.

“We have spent £125,000 putting this squad together and I’m pleased with what we have done.

“It is time to knuckle down and look for better performances individually and as a team.

“Once the window closes, it settles everybody down.”

AARON HICKEY, Hearts’ impressive left-back, has been rewarded for his meteoric rise to the top with a place in the Scotland Under-19 squad.

The 17-year-old defender is included in the group which will travel to Murcia, Spain, next month for two friendly games against Japan.

Tynecastle chief Craig Levein handed Hickey a first-team debut in May and gave him a massive vote in confidence when he started him in the 2-1 Scottish Cup Final loss to Celtic at Hampden.

Billy Stark, the Under-19 coach, told the SFA website: “We face a strong side in Japan in what I know will be a beneficial double-header.

“It’s very encouraging for me to see a number of players in the squad getting game time at first team level at a young age and, of course, it’s also pleasing to see players make the step up to Scot Gemmill’s Under-21 side in recent years, too.

“This is another opportunity for those called up to impress on the international scene.”

RYAN PORTEOUS is poised to make his Hibs comeback against St Johnstone at Easter Road on Saturday – his first competitive appearance in SEVEN months.

The 20-year-old centre-back’s career stalled with a knee problem, but, after several weeks of training, he could be ready to get back into action.

Porteous’ timing is good with Darren McGregor and Tom James absent through injury and Sean Mackie, sent off in the 6-1 mauling from Rangers at Ibrox, is about to serve a one-game ban.

His only first-team involvement so far came as a substitute in the pre-season friendly defeat by Newcastle United at the end of last month.

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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