'Beasley lucky not to have a broken leg' - Rangers staff

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RANGERS' medical staff have branded Forfar full-back Elliot Smith's challenge on DaMarcus Beasley as a potential leg breaker.

Beasley escaped serious injury in the 4-0 Homecoming Scottish Cup win at Station Park on Wednesday night after a shin-high challenge on 70 minutes that forced the USA midfielder from the field and saw Smith shown a straight red card.

Beasley will miss tomorrow's Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with Kilmarnock but should be fit for the following weekend's trip to Hamilton.

Rangers said on their official website, www.rangers.co.uk: "Beasley has been very lucky. He was caught on the shin by an horrendous challenge from Forfar full-back Elliot Smith, who was immediately sent off. However, the Murray Park staff reckon the fact that his foot was off the ground when he was hit saved him from a broken leg."

Smith, a former Hearts player, will have to serve a three-match suspension as a result of the red card. The ban will be served in the league rather than next season's Scottish Cup, meaning the player will be sidelined for this weekend's visit to Annan and also a further two matches from 4 March.

As well as picking up an automatic one-game ban, Elliot's sanction includes an additional two-matches on the sidelines for breaching the disciplinary points threshold, something he also did last season.

Forfar manager Dick Campbell has defended the 25-year-old but concedes referee Eddie Smith had to send the player off. Campbell said: "It was definitely a red card. I have looked at it again and I have no complaints. There was nothing sinister in it though. Elliot is a bank manager and he is not that type of player. The three-match ban is not good news for us nor the player."

Rangers also revealed yesterday that Lee McCulloch could miss next month's Co-operative Insurance Cup final against Celtic after suffering a calf injury in the Forfar rout.

McCulloch, who has only recently forced his way back into Walter Smith's first-team plans as a holding midfielder, will be out for a minimum of two weeks but could be missing for up to four.

That would rule him out of the March 15 Old Firm showdown at Hampden. Rangers' medical team are hoping the problem is a strain rather than a tear and say they will know more by the weekend.

Full-back Kirk Broadfoot is likely to miss the Kilmarnock game with a foot injury but, like Beasley, will be fit for Hamilton.

One player who could feature against Kilmarnock is Aaron Niguez. The 19-year-old Spaniard has failed to force his way into the first team since joining on a two-year loan spell from Valencia last summer, but he came off the bench for the final 18 minutes at Station Park and scored his first goal for the club, before ripping his strip off in celebration.

The strike put Rangers 3-0 up, with Sasa Papac and Kenny Miller having already hit the target. Miller added a fourth in the last minute as the Ibrox club secured a quarter-final clash with Hamilton.

Rangers' assistant manager Ally McCoist, who took charge of team affairs for the fifth-round win, believes Aaron did enough to give Smith plenty to ponder as Rangers continue their treble assault. He said: "I was delighted to see young Aaron score. I know he picked up a booking for his celebrations but I enjoy seeing someone pleased that they've scored and it was a special moment for him. The goal apart, I thought he played really well when he came on. He brought a bit of life to our play and gave us a bit of energy.

"He is one of those boys who wants to run at defenders and take people on and he's a real crowd-pleaser."

Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, has not been afraid to give youth a chance this season, with his decision to blood 17-year-old John Fleck adding a freshness to Rangers' Clydesdale Bank Premier League title challenge.

McCoist added: "John Fleck was given a rest after doing well for the first team and it's great for us that we have these guys coming in and performing so well.

"It gives the manager options for the rest of the season and Aaron certainly didn't do himself any harm at all with his contribution."

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