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BACK PAGE BULLETIN: CELTIC DODGE £6.2m BULLET, WATT AT WELL, EX-GER RETURNS – FOR SIXTH TIME

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CELTIC deadline target Christian Atsu has come under fire from his own fans after Newcastle scraped through their FA Cup second replay with a 3-2 win over Oxford United last night.

The 28-year-old winger was on Neil Lennon’s radar as the clock ticked down on the transfer window on Friday night.

The St James’s Park club agreed terms with the Hoops, but the Ghanaian international elected to remain on Tyneside and fight for a first-team place.

Lennon had been looking to strengthen the team on the flanks following the injury to Mikey Johnston plus the departures of Scott Sinclair to Championship side Preston North End and Lewis Morgan to David Beckham’s new MLS outfit Inter Miami.

Atsu, who joined Newcastle from Chelsea for £6.2million in May 2017, has hardly figured at the Premier League club, but manager Steve Bruce handed him a n extra-time appearance in the FA Cup struggle against their League One opponents.

However, the attacker’s brief performance left the Toon fans fuming when he passed up a golden opportunity to score with the tie balanced at 2-2.

He was picked out unguarded in the box and, faced with attempting to shoot for goal or playing in DeAndre Yedlin, Atsu simply put the the ball out of play.

He was rescued when Allan Saint-Maximin fabulous solo run and strike got Bruce’s team through to the next stage where they will meet West Brom at The Hawthorns.

Typical of the comments on Twitter was this one from @johnpottm which said: “Christian Atsu is the worst player Newcastle have had since ever.”

FORMER Celtic and one-time Scotland international striker Tony Watt is training with Motherwell.

The 26-year-old frontman is a free agent after his short stint at Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia ended for family reasons.

However, Stephen Robinson has stressed there’s no expectation on either side, according to a report in the Daily Record.

The Well boss said: “Tony’s a local boy, a very good footballer. We have just let him come in to train with us, use our facilities, with no real anybody wanting anything out of it at this stage.”

STUART McCALL, the former Scotland and Rangers midfielder, has admitted he was “desperate to return” to Bradford City for a sixth spell at the club.

The 55-year-old has signed a contract “until at least the end of next season” to manage the club where he started his career.

After a second spell as a player, he served on the coaching staff as an assistant, then caretaker manager. This is his third stint as manager.

The club sacked Gary Bowyer on Monday after a run of just three wins in 18 matches in all competitions saw them drop out of the League Two play-off places. Less than 24 hours later, McCall and his long-time assistant Kenny Black were taking training again.

The ex-Motherwell and interim Ibrox gaffer, speaking to the Yorkshire Post, said: “I am naturally delighted to be here again and am fully focused on the 15 games we have left to play.

“It is always difficult taking over from a manager who has lost his job, so I feel for Gary.

“But, when Julian (Rhodes, Bradford’s interim chief executive) contacted me, I was desperate to return.

“We have to assess the squad very quickly and get ready for the remainder of the season.

“The club is a huge one in this division and, with everything still to play for, the job is to try and get us back to where we should be.

“We are going to get our heads down, work as hard as we can and, hopefully, get the best out of what is a strong squad.

“I cannot wait to get on the training pitch with the lads and am really excited to be back in and around the place.”

 

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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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