Rangers captain Lee Wallace embraced the possibility of being drawn against Celtic in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup following his side’s 4-0 demolition of Dundee in yesterday’s 4-0 Ibrox quarter-final.
Ronny Deila’s struggling side must overcome Morton at home in their own last-eight tie this afternoon to go into the semi-final draw which will be screened live on Sky at 4.45pm this afternoon. Wallace, who scored yesterday in what was his 200th appearance for Rangers, admitted many of the first-season recruits to the side built by Mark Warburton are keen to experience a derby. The sides have only met once since Rangers were forced to start again in the fourth tier following the 2012 liquidation, with Celtic cantering to a 2-0 victory in the League Cup semi-final of 13 months ago. On the back of a one-sided contest, over the moment Harry Forrester hammered in the opener only 13 seconds in, many at Ibrox and beyond believe Warburton has bridged the gulf which then existed between the two Glasgow sides.
“It would be a great game,” Wallace said of a meeting with Celtic. “We’re all very much aware that it’s one of the biggest derbies in world football. It’s a game that everyone in that dressing room would really look forward to. We’re in a good place and in good shape. As a squad we’re really happy and looking forward to the games coming up.”
Wallace acknowledged that the impressive manner of their destruction of Dundee was the product of one of the most accomplished displays of Warburton’s nine-month tenure. “It’s certainly up there. We obviously feel that as players. The overriding feeling is that that was one of the best and that’s a standard we have to replicate every time we take to the pitch.”
The left-back said he was “really proud to take to the field for my 200th game for the club. I’m really proud to play for Rangers and never once will I take it for granted.” “It’s a really pleasing afternoon, more so for the team’s performance,” he said. “Our intentions were clear right from the start when Harry gets an early goal and for 30 to 35 minutes we do what we do best which is dominate the football. It was a really enjoyable afternoon.”
Warburton provided a measured response to his finest afternoon at the club. “‘It was another challenge today and a really pleasing performance. From the first whistle we set our tempo and played with intensity. All round the park we were strong, that is seven clean sheets in nine. A lot is made of our forward play but don’t forget what a statement that is by the back five. It was a good afternoon’s work and that speaks volumes about the attitude of the players.”
Asked if his club now had no-one – including Celtic – to fear in the Scottish Cup semi-finals, he offered a carefully-constructed response. “It is not about fearing anyone. The focus is now about Friday night and Morton,” he said. “Today we showed the gap to the top of Premiership doesn’t exist. We are delighted with our league position but we have won nothing yet. There is no point in us getting excited too early. If you are in the semi-final of a trophy who are you going to fear? I don’t think anyone fears anyone. Our job, whoever we face, is to prepare well. Don’t forget this team has only been together for seven months. They deserved this result.”