ALLY McCoist has two key selection issues for tonight’s League 1 match against Forfar as his Rangers team bid to keep their unbeaten record intact over their remaining five games.
First-choice goalkeeper Cammy Bell remains a doubt after missing the weekend’s Scottish Cup semi-final with concussion, and some of the club’s brightest young players may also miss out after being taken to extra-time in their Youth Cup semi-final win over St Mirren on Sunday.
Steve Simonsen, whose calamitous mistake led directly to Dundee United’s third goal in their 3-1 win at Ibrox on Saturday, is eager to play again. But McCoist will only take his decision on which keeper to play after consulting his medical staff.
“I’ll have to take medical advice in terms of the rules on concussion,” the manager said yesterday. “I’ll be guided by the doc. Cammy is walking about with a bear like a sore head. He wanted to play on Saturday and certainly wants to play on Tuesday. But I will always be guided by the medical boys.
“It’s been well documented [that Simonsen] made a howler for United’s third goal. But the flip side is that he made the best save all season up at Forfar to keep us in that game. That’s goalkeeping. There are no grey areas. If you make a mistake up front and miss chances, as we did do, then people tend to forget it easier. They are more focused on mistakes that maybe cost us a goal.”
The Rangers youth team’s 1-0 win has taken them through to a final against Hearts, who beat Kilmarnock 3-0 on Saturday. With the title in the bag for some time, McCoist would normally seek to reward some of that team by giving them some first-team experience over the coming weeks, but he may decide he can only afford to allow two or three of them that privilege this evening.
“In an ideal world I would,” he said when asked if he planned to play a lot of the youth team tonight. “But the boys played 120 minutes on Sunday, so I’m not sure if any of those boys would be ready for Tuesday. I’d like to get two or three of them a wee run in the remaining games, but there has to be a balance because we want to remain undefeated if we can.”
Striker Calum Gallagher is one of those youth-team players desperate for more senior action, although having only made his debut last month, he knows that patience may be required.
“If I can get involved as much as I can then that’s definitely my target,” the 19-year-old said.
“I’ve been blessed to play in a Scottish Cup quarter-final and then in the Ramsdens Cup final. That’s two massive games for a boy with next to no experience.”
Forfar head to Ibrox looking to take something home with them to keep their interest in the end-of-season play-offs alive. The Loons are five points behind fourth-placed Ayr and eight behind Stranraer in third and manager Dick Campbell wants to put pressure on ahead of the run-in.
Campbell said: “We have to go for it and look for the win. We did that at East End Park on Saturday at Dunfermline and deserved to pick up the three points.”