Rangers V Celtic at Ibrox Stadium : Match Preview

25 March 2012 11:40
McCoist eyes Old Firm boost 

Rangers manager Ally McCoist is determined his players can be the ones celebrating after Sunday's Old Firm derby with soaraway SPL leaders Celtic. If Motherwell fail to beat Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Saturday afternoon, the Hoops will have the opportunity to win the title at the home of their greatest rivals for the first time since 1967. That would add to the misery for Rangers, who are already mired in administration and faced with an uncertain future. McCoist believes his team are capable of upsetting the odds - Celtic are firm favourites to win the match - and providing a little rare cheer for their suffering supporters.

McCoist said: "I'm going to state the obvious - I want our boys to be celebrating at the end of the game after hopefully picking up a hard-earned three points. "The importance of the Old Firm at any time is massive and it's really important we go out and play with pride and play in a fashion that does Rangers proud." Fuelling McCoist's belief that an upset could be on the cards are results such as Kilmarnock's Scottish Communities League Cup triumph over the Hoops last weekend. Neil Lennon's Celtic were on course for a domestic treble ahead of that clash at Hampden. Rangers saw their own hopes of retaining the championship all but end when they were docked 10 points by the Scottish Premier League after entering administration last month. Since then the Ibrox men have lost three out of four matches and a fourth consecutive home defeat would be unprecedented in their history. McCoist said: "The fact that Celtic are favourites for the game doesn't bother me in the slightest."

The last Old Firm derby title-decider was at Celtic Park in 1999 when Rangers were crowned champions in what proved to be an explosive encounter between the Glasgow giants, with three players sent off and referee Hugh Dallas struck by a missile. Lennon insists there will be no gloating from Celtic, whatever the outcome on Sunday. He said: "The last thing we want to do is rub it in people's faces. We will be respectful of everyone at the stadium. "It doesn't matter when it (title win) comes or where it comes, it will be celebrated regardless, there will be a lot of euphoria, a lot of joy and a lot of pride. "But we will be there to celebrate among ourselves then we look forward to a home game against St Johnstone where we can relax and enjoy what we have achieved. "We are talking hypothetically here, it will depend on how Motherwell get on against Kilmarnock and if things go our way on Sunday. "I don't like talking about winning games and winning titles because there is still a lot of football to be played before we can actually achieve that."

Rangers hope to have several players back in contention. Kyle Lafferty (hamstring) and Steven Whittaker (groin) are back in training after lengthy spells on the sidelines while Sasa Papac could also return after recovering from a knock. Carlos Bocanegra and Dorin Goian, meanwhile, have completed their respective suspensions. James Forrest and Gary Hooper are doubts for Celtic. Scotland winger Forrest looks the least likely to feature with a bruised ankle picked up during last week's cup final defeat to Kilmarnock at Hampden. Striker Hooper has a dead leg and, like Forrest, will be assessed on Saturday morning. 

Source: PA

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