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What Will Make The Headlines Today?
Football was forgetten after the last time Celtic and Rangers met. Let's hope that is not the case today. Ally McCoist has backed his Old Firm debutants to handle today's game as they welcome Celtic to Ibrox. He has a number of new recruits who could get their first taste of the famous fixture today. But, with some of his new faces - such as United States captain Carlos Bocanegra and Romania international Dorin Goian - having plenty of experience, McCoist does not expect them to be fazed by the occasion. He said: "The game is big enough that they know about it. I will have a wee chat with them but I'm not daft enough to think that Carlos Bocanegra has played 90-odd times for the USA and hasn't played in big games. Indeed, Dorin Goian's last international was against France. These boys play in big games and they can handle big games. The one thing that might be a little bit different for them is the atmosphere that the crowd creates and, possibly, the tempo of the game in the first 15 or 20 minutes. But that's why we've got these guys. We want them to play in these games and we feel they can handle it. So we will have a chat but nothing out of the ordinary.'' McCoist is not short of experience of Old Firm games as both a player and assistant manager to Walter Smith but will be facing Celtic for the first time as Rangers manager in his own right. He said: "I've really been looking forward to it since the Dundee United game last week, which was a great result for us (1-0 away win). I've just been planning ahead and I'm very, very excited. I was certainly very lucky as a player against Celtic and hopefully I've kept some of that luck. I don't care how good anybody is. You need a bit of luck to go along with it and it's always welcome. I can't see it being a lot different (as manager) to be honest with you. As a player, you have different pressures. The pressure as assistant manager was very intense. I realise the responsibilities are certainly greater but in terms of how I'll feel, I'm not sure I'll be any different. The desire to win and do well will be massive as it always has been and always will be.'' McCoist has prepared a positive approach to the game. He said: "I don't want to give too much away and divulge too much but we will be picking a team that will be attack-minded. I feel that we've got too many attack-minded players in our team not to go and win games. You look at Nikica Jelavic and Kyle Lafferty and Steven Naismith and Steven Davis - even Steven Whittaker gets forward, and Gregg Wylde. They are all forward-thinking players and want to get into the opponents' half and create and cause damage. It would be wrong of us not to let them go and express themselves and do that.'' Neil Lennon wants bygones to be bygones when he meets up again with McCoist. Celtic's Scottish Cup replay win over Rangers last season saw three Rangers players sent off and there was an ugly confrontation at the after game handshakes stage between Lennon and McCoist, which led to the infamous Old Firm summit chaired by First Minister Alex Salmond. All eyes and cameras will be scanning the technical areas today, but the Celtic manager was not for raking over the coals of the incident, believing that far too much was made of his altercation with McCoist in the first place. He said: "I don't want to even talk about that. It's history as far as I'm concerned and I'm sure it is for Ally. Yes, we have seen each other since then and we try not to make too much out of it. It's a new season. We had seven Old Firm games last season and only one of them spilled over and caused some controversy. That's not too bad.'' Lennon is hoping his captain Scott Brown and striker Anthony Stokes can prove they are fully fit for the trip to Govan. Brown is battling against an ankle problem while Stokes has a thigh complaint, and both missed the 2-0 Europa League Group I defeat by Atletico Madrid in Spain on Thursday night.
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