RANGERS manager Ally McCoist’s troubles have increased after he was forced to rule out first-choice goalkeeper Cammy Bell from this afternoon’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final clash against Dundee United.
Rangers v. Dundee United
William Hill Scottish Cup Semi-Final
At Ibrox, today, Kick-off 12.45pm
Referee: B Madden
TV: Live on Sky Sports 2; Highlights on BBC 1, 10:30pm
Radio: Radio Scotland
Bell sustained concussion in a training ground accident earlier this week and the goalkeeper has reluctantly bowed to medical advice.
Ibrox club doctor Paul Jackson ruled that Bell could not play again so soon after the incident, in which he took a knock to the jaw on Tuesday. McCoist confirmed that goalkeeper understudy Steve Simonsen, who turned 35 last week, will get first taste of action at Ibrox, the controversial choice of venue for this afternoon’s televised cup semi-final. “Simonsen is in,” said McCoist, with the English ’keeper having himself tweeted on Thursday evening that he was ready to “step up” after Bell’s “rotten luck”. McCoist said the decision had been taken “out of my hands” because the medical team’s decision was final.
The news provides the under-fire McCoist with some relief in one sense. Roundly criticised for his team’s performance in last weekend’s Ramsdens Cup final defeat by Raith Rovers, McCoist’s decision to sign an experienced goalkeeper as cover, which was questioned by some, could now be viewed as having been vindicated. While Rangers have the unusual advantage of being at home this afternoon, McCoist described the atmosphere as promising to be “red hot”, with as many as 12,000 United fans expected.
Simonsen made his Scottish league debut against Dundee United for Dundee last season after being signed as cover for Robert Douglas. He joined Rangers in September, with McCoist criticised for spending much-needed funds on the wages of a goalkeeper whose pedigree suggested he was better than sitting on the bench for League 1 fixtures.
He has made one appearance to date for Rangers, deputising for Bell in January against Forfar Athletic after the first-choice ’keeper was given permission to attend the birth of his daughter. Simonsen kept a clean sheet in a 2-0 win and made one spectacular save when Rangers were only one goal ahead.
“Simmo is an experienced goalkeeper,” said McCoist yesterday. “I have said all along that we need two experienced goalkeepers.
“Simmo arguably made the best save of the season when he came in against Forfar so he will be fine,” he added. “He has been fantastic here.”
McCoist has other worries. The manager admitted full-back Lee Wallace “would need a miracle” to make the game due to a recurrence of a hip problem, while David Templeton and Andy Little are already ruled out.
Meanwhile, former Dundee United striker Jon Daly admitted he was wrestling with the dilemma of whether to celebrate should he manage to score a goal for Rangers. “I have had a few people ask me that and I don’t know,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for Dundee United and the current chairman [Stephen Thompson].
“He probably doesn’t get on particularly well with Rangers, but I have got time for him.
“Who is to say that the emotions won’t take over if I score a 92nd minute winner?” he added. “It is a difficult one.”