Red card appeal frees McCulloch to face Celtic

RANGERS have lodged an appeal against Lee McCulloch's dismissal against St Mirren on Saturday, leaving the midfielder free to play in tomorrow night's Old Firm showdown at Celtic Park.

McCulloch was shown a straight red card by referee Steven McLean after just 24 minutes of the match in Paisley for violent conduct after he was judged to have deliberately elbowed St Mirren player Graham Carey.

Rangers were leading 1-0 at the time but went on to lose 2-1, ending the game with just nine men after defender Dorin Goian was sent off for a second bookable offence.

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Manager Ally McCoist insisted McCulloch's red card was "harsh" and changed the course of a match in which defeat saw Rangers' lead over Celtic at the top of the SPL cut to just one point ahead of tomorrow's second Old Firm fixture of the season.

Rangers last night confirmed they have submitted a claim of wrongful dismissal to the SFA which will be unable to convene a Fast Track Tribunal to hear the case before tomorrow night's match. So an automatic one-match suspension goes on hold, making McCulloch available for selection against Celtic.

The festive holiday period may mean McCulloch's tribunal is not held until 5 January, which would also free him to play in Rangers' home game against Motherwell next Monday.