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BACK PAGE BULLETIN: CELTIC KIDS ON STRIKE, HOOPS’ EURO WARNING, MORELOS IN SPOTLIGHT, CLARKE EXPLAINS SNUB FOR JOHNSTON, GILMOUR

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JONATHAN AFOLABI netted a double as Celtic’s youngsters beat Albion Rovers 3-0 to retain the Jock Stein Friendship Cup.

Teenage ace Karamoko Dembele was also on the scoresheet while an impressed Neil Lennon watched the action from the stand at Cliftonhill.

versatile Jack Hendry and Aussie winger Daniel Arzani, coming back from the injury that wrecked his initial season on loan from Manchester City, started as did teenage defender Lee O’Connor, who joined the Hoops from Manchester United on transfer deadline day.

Tommy McIntyre’s squad for the game – in memory of legendary manager Stein who played for both clubs – also included former Arsenal prospect Armstrong Oko-Flex and Liam Burt, who arrived from Rangers in the summer.

Republic of Ireland Under-19 international striker Afolabi, who signed a three-year deal after knocking back an extension offer from Southampton, also scored with a cheeky back-heel in the reserves’ win over Morton last week.

CLUJ CALAMITY…Odsonne Edouard can’t hide his disappointment as Celtic face Champions League exit.

CELTIC have been warned by Cluj skipper Mario Camora that the Romanians are a BETTER team now than when they defeated the Hoops 4-3 in the Champions League in August.

And the Romanian side’s skipper insisted that is because they proved themselves by beating top-rated Serie A opposition 2-1 in the first game of the Europa League Group E a fortnight ago.

He said: “We are a team who have already shown what we can do by beating a club like Lazio.

“That result made a lot of clubs across Europe sit up and take notice of us.”

Billel Omrani, who netted twice to wreck Neil Lennon’s hopes of leading the team to the lucrative group stages of Europe’s elite competition, has recovered from injury – and is promising to inflict more misery on the Scottish champions.

The Frenchman, 26, speaking to the Scottish Sun, said: “I am fit and ready to play. I had some pain recently, but I am fine now.

“I want to score in every game I play in, so, of course, I want to score here again.

“We will work hard for the victory. We play every single game to win. We will see what happens.”

ALFREDO MORELOS was watched by an LA Galaxy spy during Rangers’ 5-0 win over Aberdeen at Ibrox.

The Colombian netted his 13th goal of the season against the Dons and former Gers skipper Richard Gough revealed the MLS side’s technical director Jovan Kirovski had a look at the controversial frontman.

Gough, speaking to the Evening Times, said: “Jovan is a friend of mine and I sat next to him at the game on Saturday.

“He was asking me about Alfredo and I told him he’s just a pure goalscorer.

“Jovan said: ‘Yeah, but he looks a touch heavy’. But I told him just to keep watching and he would definitely score.

“True enough, he scored with a great finish just a few minutes later. I’ve been really impressed with him this season.”

MIKEY JOHNSTON, who was playing well with Celtic before injury interrupted his progress last month, and Chelsea wonderkid Billy Gilmour were overlooked by Steve Clarke when he named his Euro 2020 squad yesterday.

The bright kids need “time to grow and develop” insisted the Scotland international manager as he prepared for the games against Russia in Moscow on October 10 and San Marino at Hampden three days later.

Former Rangers prospect Gilmour has enjoyed a superb start with the Stamford Bridge outfit and made his Premier League debut against Sheffield United in August. He also earned praise from boss Frank Lampard after impressing in last week’s 7-1 Carabao Cup win over Grimsby.

There was talk of a possible full squad call-up for the 18-year-old midfielder – who has played nine times for Scot Gemmill’s Under-21s – but Clarke is keen to give the youngsters more time to grow at youth level.

LONDON CALLING…Chelsea’s bright young Scot Billy Gilmour.

The Scots gaffer, speaking to Sky Sports News, said: “Billy is an exceptional young talent and we have to give the young players time to grow and develop.

“I think the best place for them to do that is in Scot’s Under-21s team. There are a lot of good boys down there.

“I also considered Mikey Johnston, who has been in terrific form for Celtic.

“Ryan Porteous has got back in the Hibs team and looks a decent prospect and Fraser Hornby up front looks a handful.

“Scot’s got some good players there and it’s important that they grow together as a group. If they can develop and get a winning mentality then that’ll be good for Scotland in the future.”

* WELL, what do YOU think? We want to hear your views. Scotzine will publish the best comments on FEEDBACK FRIDAY, the brand new column where fans can have their say.

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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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