STUART McCall admits Rangers are still reeling after being floored by Motherwell on Friday night, but insists there is still plenty of fight in the Ibrox camp.
The Light Blues’ promotion hopes were left hanging by a thread after Motherwell claimed a shock 3-1 Scottish Premiership final first-leg win in Glasgow.
I don’t mind them feeling down today - it’s only natural. You can’t expect them to come in with a spring in their step and a smile on their faceStuart McCall
The Lanarkshire outfit’s first away win over Rangers in 18 years now gives the Fir Park outfit hope that they can preserve their three-decade run in the top flight.
But McCall could not disguise the fact it was a devastating blow to Rangers’ plans as they look to make their return to Scotland’s highest division three season on from their liquidation crisis.
The manager - whose long-term job prospects could hinge on turning the tie around - said: “I feel like I’ve been 12 rounds with a heavyweight boxer. I’ve been punched in the gut and I feel a bit deflated, winded and hurt. We all do.
“But I will be better on Sunday and the lads will be as well.
“I don’t mind them feeling down today - it’s only natural. You can’t expect them to come in with a spring in their step and a smile on their face.
“But we will work on it and make sure mentally they are ready for Sunday.”
Rangers dominated the first 25 minutes but were stung when Darren McGregor deflected a Lee Erwin strike past Cammy Bell.
Stephen McManus and Lionel Ainsworth then twisted the screw before McGregor’s late header allowed the faintest chink of hope to come into view for the Light Blues.
A group of half-a-dozen fans gathered outside the club’s Murray Park training ground to urge their players on while unveiling a placard that read: “Nothing is impossible. Have faith in yourselves - Believe.”
And McCall has given a similar message to his troops.
“Football is all about goals,” he said. “I’ve just watched the first half back. We had something like 70 per cent of the possession and were in control of the game.
“We had a couple of chances and got our full-backs in wide areas, which is what we wanted.
“Nicky Law had a shot and the ball has flashed across the box but we have just not scored the first goal. Their goal gave them a huge lift in confidence.
“I’ve no doubt though that nobody could have envisioned that performance - not even their players or manager - because that is by far and away their best away performance of the season.
“But it was our worst home performance since I’ve been here. The boys got a little bit nervy and edgy if I’m honest.
“However, I’ve got a belief that we will be better and hopefully Motherwell won’t be as good.
“Two goals is certainly not insurmountable but that’s easy to say. We’ve got to do it and we’ve got to believe we can do it.”