Rangers: Extra games wouldn’t faze us, says McCall
The Ibrox side currently lead the way in the race for second spot in the Championship, with a one-point advantage over Hibernian and a six-point cushion separating them from Queen of the South.
Finishing immediately behind newly-crowned champions Hearts would spare the Ibrox men the bother of two extra hazardous games in the play-offs, with the teams finishing third and fourth facing off over two legs before taking on the second tier’s runners-up. The winner of that tie then meets the Premiership’s second-bottom side in a crucial winner-takes-all battle.
But having stumbled to a 3-0 defeat against Queens and a 1-1 draw with basement side Livingston either side of Sunday’s four-goal romp over Raith, there is no guarantee the Light Blues will see off Saturday’s trip to Dumbarton without another slip-up. McCall, though, is ready to take whatever outcome is thrown his way.
He said: “At this moment second place is in our own hands. If you’d given me that a few weeks ago when I first came in, I’d have snapped your hands off for it.
“There were one or two people who thought we wouldn’t even reach the play-offs.
“We’ve done that first part. Obviously we want to get second but Hibs and Queens want the same.
“You don’t want to have to play the extra games but if you have to, you will. If you have to get through to the top league by playing six games then so be it.
“Of course it’s important to us to finish second. But if we finish third or fourth that does not mean we won’t get promotion. It’s not the end of the world.”
McCall was also happy to see a peaceful resolution reached after the row raised by the Scottish Professional Football League’s messy meddling with the Championship fixture list.
Rangers’ final-day tie with Hearts at Tynecastle was pushed back 24 hours to Sunday, 3 May, to accommodate Sky Sports.
But that left Hibs raging as having played their last game at Falkirk on the Saturday, they claimed McCall’s team would be advantaged by the fact they would know the result required in Gorgie to claim second.
Compromise was reached when Sky gave the league permission to switch the Hearts-Rangers tie back to its original 2 May slot. “Everyone playing at the same time is fine and the right thing to do,” said McCall.
But there could yet be more tinkering with the schedule to come. Hibs and Falkirk – who have yet to be counted out of the play-off chase – will battle for a place in the William Hill Scottish Cup final on Saturday, leaving the possibility that the second leg of the play-off final may have to be pushed back into June.
The SPFL is expected to announce early next week if a change of date is required but Rangers are bracing themselves for an administrative nightmare, with 12 first-team members due to become free agents on 1 June.
McCall confirmed the club’s five loanees from Newcastle are registered until 9 June, and will be free to play whatever happens. But he admitted the club may have to hand short-term deals to their players to see them through to the re-arranged date.
“We won’t think about it until it becomes a problem,” he said.
“But it will certainly need to be something that is looked at if that does become the case, as we have almost a dozen players whose contract will be up at the end of May.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS