CELTIC'S 2-0 win at Hearts on Sunday was spoiled somewhat when manager Gordon Strachan was verbally abused by a home fan after his post-match press conference.

Hearts have launched an investigation after the Celtic boss was targeted by a supporter who approached him from one of the ground's hospitality suites.

A Hearts spoke-sman said, "An investigation has already started and once the individual has been identified, appropriate action will be taken."

On the pitch goals from Shaun Maloney and Gary Caldwell secured all three points to send Celtic back to the top of the table.

Controversy arose when Hearts defender Marius Zaliukas was red-carded for a "last-man" foul on Scott McDonald, but Paul Hartley sent the resultant penalty wide as the Bhoys began to look towards Wednesday night's Champions League clash with Manchester United.

Strachan said, "It was a hard game until the two goals went in and it was good that the players put themselves in that position. After that we could come down a couple of gears.

"People have spouted that Manchester United played in second gear against us. They were only in second gear when they got to the stage where they had scored two goals against us and remember, those two goals were offside.

"Everyone in the United camp said that it wasn't easy for them, it was hard work. They couldn't find a way through and Artur Boruc didn't have a shot at him.

"Whatever happens, we won't have the same ability as them, you know that and I know that. They are the best team in the world, they are far better than Italy and France.

"That's the competition we are playing in. West Brom were there previous to us and lost 4-0, Hull have lost four, West Ham have lost two and it could have been any score and Roma lost seven.

"Whatever our failings, spirit, character and determination is not a problem, but we will need to be at our best and have a bit of luck against them."

Celtic, meanwhile, have vowed to hang onto Japanese midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura who is wanted by his former club Yokohama Marinos.

Celtic midfielder Scott Brown has been named the Scottish Premier League's Player of the Month for October.

Delap Sidelined

STOKE midfielder Rory Delap is not expecting an Irish return despite playing his part in Saturday's win against Arsenal when he set up both goals with his trademark long throw.

The 32-year-old said, "It's been good for my kids, seeing my ugly mug in the papers. I'm not going to get any modeling contracts but you've got to enjoy it.

"I've been asked about Ireland a little bit recently but I don't think so. I'm getting on a bit now. Trapattoni has a young squad now and they're doing well at the


"There have been 'B' internationals and big training squads of 40-odd and I haven't had the call, but never say never."

Soccer Shorts

GIOVANNI Trapattoni looks set to call Hamilton winger James McCarthy up to his squad for the Poland friendly later this month when a full cap will bring an end to interest in the player from Scotland where he was born . . .

DROGHEDA United are to appeal a decision to dock them 10 Eircom League points after they went into examinership as the punishment rules them out of the running for European football next season . . .

IRISH midfielder Glenn Whelan has admitted he may have to leave Stoke City to protect his place in the internationalsquad . . .

BRAY Wanderers have appointed former player Anthony "Bo" McKeever as their new assistant manager to Eddie Gormley . . .

UCD were relegated from the Premier Division of the Eircom League following Friday night's home defeat to Bohs . . .

SUNDERLAND'S Irish striker David Connolly has undergone a second operation on a groin injury . . .

IRELAND and England are monitoring young Sheffield United full-back Kyle Naughton . . .

DUNDALK defender John Flanagan has announced his retirement.

Earls Called

DECLAN Kidney has turned to youth for his debut as Irish coach with Munster kid Keith Earls handed a dramatic debut call-up for Saturday's international against Canada in Limerick.

Fellow Munster youngster Tony Buckley also gets his chance in a game Ireland are expected to win comfortably before the Croke Park showdown with the All-Blacks a week later.

Earls has been in sensational form since breaking into the Munster team this season and earns his reward at Thomond Park on Saturday.

Also in the side are former Ulster winger Tommy Bowe and Leinster pair Rob Kearney, on the left wing, and Luke Fitzgerald, who will partner Brian O'Driscoll in the center.

The Munster trio of Marcus Horan, Jerry Flannery and Tony Buckley make up the front row, with Ulster's Stephen Ferris and Leinster's Shane Jennings named as flankers.

The Ireland team to play Canada is: Earls; Bowe, O'Driscoll, Fitzgerald, Kearney; O'Gara, Reddan; Horan, Flannery, Buckley, O'Callaghan, O'Connell, Ferris, Jennings, Heaslip. Subs from: Best, Hayes, Caldwell, Quinlan, D. Wallace, P. Wallace, Stringer, Horgan.

In other rugby news, Ronan O'Gara has been named as player of the year and Munster have won the team of the year award at the Guinness Rugby Writers awards.

Sports Shorts

BOXING: Mayo lightweight Ray Moylett was crowned World Youth 60Kg champion in Guadalajara, Mexico on Saturday night. Dubliner Jamie Kavanagh won silver while Thomas McCarthy and David Joe Joyce took home bronze medals . . .

CRICKET: Niall O'Brien scored a century as Ireland won a third successive ICC Intercontinental Cup final with victory over Namibia on Sunday . . .

CRICKET: Irish born Middlesex batsman Ed Joyce is to sign for Sussex at the end of the year.

Iht 600x300px with button2