Football: Scotland elect to face Estonia at Kilmarnock's Rugby Park

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The Independent Online
Kilmarnock's Rugby Park will host an international for the first time since 1910 when it stages Scotland's World Cup qualifier with Estonia, and Celtic Park will host a potentially crucial tie on 2 April against qualification rivals Austria.

The Scottish Football Association have stuck by their pledge to take the five matches to different venues as a result of redevelopment work at the national stadium, Glasgow's Hampden Park.

A crowd of 46,738 turned up at Rangers' Ibrox ground in November to see Craig Brown's side beat Sweden 1-0 thanks to a John McGinlay goal. Now Rugby Park will stage the Estonia fixture on Saturday, 29 March, 87 years after Scotland beat Wales there 1-0. The Ayrshire ground is capable of holding 18,128. Celtic Park will have a capacity of around 50,000 for the tie against Austria five days later.

Before these games, Scotland travel to Monaco to face Estonia on Tuesday, 11 February in the controversial replay of the 9 October "match-that-never- was".

West Ham last night emerged as surprise bidders in the race for Celtic's unsettled Dutch striker Pierre van Hooijdonk. The Dutchman is at the centre of a long-running contract row with the Glasgow club after demanding a pay rise and he has attracted the interest of Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven among others.

It seems unlikely that the London club could meet Celtic's valuation of around pounds 3-4m. However, they do have Romanian international striker Florin Raducioiu, once a transfer target of Celtic's rivals, Rangers, as a possible makeweight in any cash-plus-player deal.

The Manchester City manager, Frank Clark, has agreed to a request from his former club Nottingham Forest to keep Nigel Clough for another month's loan. The 30-year-old striker, who has made an impact since returning to the City Ground, was due to return to Maine Road after Sunday's Premiership game against Tottenham.

But now he will stay on and, as part of the deal, City will take Northern Ireland goalkeeper Tommy Wright for a month's loan. Wright, who has just returned from a successful three-month stint with Reading, is likely to go straight into City's first team.