STUART McCall has denied there is any form of rift between him and Kris Boyd after the Rangers striker missed out on the 18-man squad for the second game in succession.
Nicky Clark and Kenny Miller have started the past two games in attack, while Jon Daly has taken up a place on the bench. Eighteen-year-old forward Ryan Hardie even managed to get a run-out during Rangers’ 4-1 win over Cowdenbeath on Saturday.
However, the Rangers manager was quick to stress that it was merely a tactical decision and that he had no issues with the former Scotland international.
“If I’m not starting with either Kris or Jon [Daly], I don’t feel that I need both of them on the bench,” said McCall. “Obviously Kris played in my first game and Jon came on against Alloa and made an impact, so it would be difficult to leave Jon out at the moment.
“There’s not been a problem with Kris. His attitude since I’ve come in the door has been first-class. He trains as hard as he can, and he’ll continue to do that because that’s the type of person he is.
“I’ve explained it to him. He’s fully committed to everything we are trying to do here. If I’d played Daly with Kenny Miller today, then Boyd would have been on the bench.
“I just don’t feel that I would put both Daly and Boyd on if they started on the bench.”
For McCall, having good players to leave out is a big positive as Rangers shift into pole position in the hunt for second place.
The Ibrox club currently sit behind Hibs on goal difference but, having played a game less, have their destiny back in their own hands.
“We’ve got competition for places, which is obviously good.
“Boyd still wanted to come into training today to keep an edge on his fitness.
“Everyone’s got to think like that because it could be anyone, even someone who’s not in the squad right now, who could become the hero at the end of the season. We need everybody.”
Among those players who may play a big part in the run-in is Haris Vuckic.
The talk leading up to the game centred around the five Newcastle players who arrived on loan during the transfer window, of which Vuckic is the only one to have made a positive impact thus far.
The Slovenian playmaker endeared himself to the Ibrox crowd further by coming off the bench against Cowdenbeath to net a late double, securing the points for the hosts. McCall was quick to pile on the praise for Vuckic’s efforts, even going as far as to compare him to a former Rangers favourite.
“I said my second day in training that he’s got a lot of quality,” McCall said.
“He reminds me a lot of big Alexei Mikhailichenko. He’s very graceful with a good left foot.
“I pulled himself aside yesterday and he was disappointed not to start, but he understood because the team played so well at Easter Road last weekend.
“I said today we would give him a good half-hour because he’s been unfortunate to be out the side.
“So I made a deal with him that he would come on and get us a couple of goals.”
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