ALLY McCoist wants to postpone Rangers’ Petrofac Training Cup quarter-final against East Fife on 6 September as a result of international call-ups – and has also championed a Scotland return for striker Kris Boyd.
The Rangers manager, who is preparing for a League Cup tie against Queen’s Park tonight, will again make use of SPFL regulations which allow clubs to have fixtures moved if they have three or more players selected for international duty.
Talented midfielder Lewis Macleod was named yesterday in Billy Stark’s Scotland Under-21 squad who have a friendly in Slovakia on Thursday, 4 September followed by a European Championship qualifier in Differdange against Luxembourg on Monday, 8 September.
Dean Shiels is on stand-by for Northern Ireland’s Euro qualifier in Hungary on Saturday, 7 September and Bilel Mohsni is in the same position for Tunisia’s African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Botswana on 6 September and Egypt four days later.
McCoist invoked the rule last season to postpone League One fixtures with Dunfermline and Forfar Athletic and he has defended his decision to do it again.
He said yesterday: “If we have these players away we will definitely seek to have the East Fife game postponed.
“We have set a precedent for doing it and I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t do it.
“If we did it last year, which we did do, it might be the case that people would look upon it as being a bit disrespectful if we didn’t do it again.
“Plus, the obvious scenario is that we want to maintain as strong a squad as possible to take on anybody.”
McCoist, meanwhile, insists that Boyd and Lee Wallace are capable of forcing their way back into Gordon Strachan’s plans having been overlooked for the match with Germany on 7 September.
Boyd was recalled after a three-year absence for a friendly in Norway last November but was not used and, of course, played for Strachan at Middlesbrough. McCoist said: “Gordon knows Kris really, really well. He has been playing well. He scored a hat-trick against Clyde and set up the goal for Nicky Clark against Dumbarton at the weekend. An in-form Kris Boyd would be an asset for anybody.”
“I have no doubt that if Gordon thinks Lee Wallace deserves to be in his squad then he will be but what Lee has to do is obviously play well for Rangers.”
Both players will be in action at Airdrie tonight along with Darren McGregor, who is relishing a remarkable career change as a scoring, marauding right back. A picture of him scoring for St Mirren against Rangers used to inspire him when he was recovering from knee surgery two years ago. Now he can add a new one after smashing in the second goal in last Saturday’s 4-1 win over Dumbarton.
McGregor is relishing his big chance with Rangers. He knows promotion is the priority but he would love a run in the League Cup starting with victory over Queen’s Park tonight at Airdrie.
He said: “That pic got me through the darker days. You’d do four or five hours and then suffer a setback. Just looking at that picture helped keep me going. I never thought I would be in this position. That’s not to say I didn’t have aspirations but back then it was just about getting back for St Mirren. I am here now so everything from here on is a bonus.
“Playing right back is new to me. I’m still getting to grips with it but the gaffer has put faith in me and I need to go with it. I played there once or twice for St Mirren as cover, but I feel I am getting better and can do a job.”
If Rangers progress, a home tie against Inverness Caley Thistle in round two is the reward.
McCoist said: “It is a great incentive. We saw at the weekend how good a side big Yogi is forming. They deserve to be where they are.”
McCoist is unlikely to make any changes to his side although Lee Robinson, back for a second spell having signed until the end of the season, may be on the bench as back-up goalkeeper.