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BACK PAGE BULLETIN: CLUBS FACE FIXTURE CHAOS, ARFIELD ANSWERS GERRARD DEMAND, RICE SPOT-KICK REVELATION

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SCOTLAND’S top-flight clubs are bracing themselves for possible fixture chaos with the Scottish Cup quarter-finals due for February 29 and March 1.

Hearts, who were drawn against Rangers yesterday, are scheduled to face the Ibrox side and Hibs within four days, while the Easter Road side’s home clash with Inverness Caley Thistle may be moved to Friday night.

The potential reshuffle stems from police being unlikely to allow both capital clubs to play in Edinburgh on the same day, yet neither can switch to Sunday as they are set to meet in the Premiership just two days later on Tuesday, March 3.

Steven Gerrard’s outfit’s Europa League clash with Braga on Wednesday 26 prevents their Cup visit to Tynecastle being being played any earlier than Saturday.

Premier Sports have first pick on live televised matches and they will almost certainly opt for Glasgow’s Big Two.

Celtic’s Europa League fixture on Thursday against Copenhagen will mean their tie against St Johnstone in Perth will be played on Sunday, leaving only Saturday for Hearts v Rangers.

Another scenario could see the Tynecastle quarter-final kicking off around midday with Hibs v Inverness Caley Thistle taking place later in the afternoon.

STEVEN GERRARD demanded more firepower from his midfield – and he got his wish as Scott Arfield hit two and Joe Aribo added another in the 4-1 Scottish Cup win over Hamilton Accies.

The Rangers boss admitted Alfredo Morelos – who headed the other effort, the club’s 100th of the campaign – and Jermain Defoe require support as the Ibrox club attempt to win their first piece of silverware in eight years.

Arfield, speaking to the Scottish Sun, said: “It is fair comment we don’t score enough from midfield or from outside the box, particularly at Ibrox when teams sit in and play a low block.

“It is difficult to play pinpoint passes and play on the half-turn.

“You have to score goals in different ways. The ability we have as midfielders, we should be scoring more goals.

“But to score 100 goals already shows the attacking quality we have in this team. We are always going to create chances, particularly when you have two strikers like Alfredo Morelos and Jermain Defoe.

“Greg Stewart is another one who can chip in and we should be capable of getting goals from everywhere. That stat doesn’t surprise me at all. ”

BRIAN RICE, the Hamilton Accies boss, claims Rangers coach Michael Beale was amazed his team dodged conceding a spot-kick against Accies.

With the score standing at 1-1, the home side were denied by referee Alan Muir when the ball clearly struck Connor Goldson’s hand in the box.

The Ibrox defender made a mess of at attempted headed clearance from a right-wing cross and fell on the ball with BT Sport pundit Chris Sutton joking: “It’s a pity he didn’t catch it.”

Rice reckons the controversial new hand ball rule is interpreted differently for certain clubs as he revealed Beale’s half-time approach.

The Accies gaffer, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “When you play the Old Firm, you have to take your chances and you have to carry luck and you need to get some big decisions.

“Michael Beale said to me at half-time: ‘That’s a stonewall penalty, how did you not get it?’

“I am disappointed because the referee and linesman had a really clear view of it.”

 

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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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