RANGERS boss Stuart McCall has warned skipper Lee McCulloch his red card against Hearts could cost him his place in the Ibrox line-up.
The defender has been given a two-match ban - starting with Queen of the South at Palmerston on Thursday - after being sent off on Sunday.
The Light Blues captain put his elbow into the face of Jambos striker Osman Sow as the pair jumped for a high ball.
McCall, whose team clung on for a vital 2-1 win after playing 50 minutes a man down, had been happy with McCulloch’s displays until that point.
But the interim Rangers manager has now warned the former Scotland cap he is not “undroppable”.
He said: “Lee made a poor decision. I understand why he did it but it was a blatant red card. He led with his elbow and it was wrong - but he knows he was wrong.
“He has got to take his punishment and move on now. He has got a two-game ban - whether he gets back in the team thereafter we will see.
“Since I’ve been at the club he has done fine. He’s been good in the dressing room and his performances have been good.
“If whoever comes in over the next two games does really well, then he might not get back in.
“He’s not undroppable no, but at this moment in time with the games we have played he has done nothing to merit being dropped.”
And McCall also told off David Templeton after the winger complained Rangers were not “coached the right way” under previous bosses Ally McCoist and Kenny McDowall.
“David made an error,” said McCall. “He was out of the frame a wee bit under Kenny and Ally.
“But he knows we are not here to criticise what went on before, because the players were part of that. All we are concentrating on is the here and now.”
While McCall is busy transforming Rangers on the pitch after three successive wins, Dave King now hopes to get the Scottish Football Association’s blessing to take over as chairman after judges at the Court of Session approved his boardroom bid.
But with 12 first-team players out of contract at the end of this season, McCall has warned his squad they may have to wait for new deals.
He said: “I don’t think it will be too long before Dave becomes chairman of the club, so that is another positive move.
“I’m not really (being kept up to date with what is going on off the field). I’m just concentrating on the football.
“I’ve spoken to a couple of directors about things but we have five games in 14 days so I’m just focusing on that.
“As for contracts, that can only be sorted when the club knows what league it’s going to be playing in next season, so that is the key.”
The weekend victory over Hearts moved Gers back into the box seat for the promotion play-offs.
But that now leaves ex-Motherwell boss McCall facing the “nightmare” scenario that he could come up against his former Fir Park troops.
Well’s 5-0 victory over basement boys St Mirren has all but spared them from the automatic relegation spot but Ian Baraclough’s team could yet be made to scrap for their Premiership place against Rangers in the play-off final.
“It’s not looking likely at all because Motherwell are not going to finish in the bottom two - I hope,” said a desperate McCall.
“First and foremost we have to do our job and get in the play-offs.
“But I said when Motherwell signed Scott McDonald that I believed - and I still do - that they would have enough to get out of trouble.”
Before that, though, McCall must continue to rack up the wins, starting with Thursday’s trip to Dumfries.
Gers lost 2-0 on their last visit in December - just hours after it was revealed McCoist was stepping down as boss.
“I’m still aghast because I’ve just watched a video of the second half,” said McCall. “I haven’t showed the players because I think they know they were not in a good place at that time.
“The news about Ally broke on the afternoon of the game and it was just a down day.
“As much as Rangers underperformed, all credit goes to Queens. They are a good side, especially down there. We know how difficult it will be.”
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