IN THE week that he acquired a major migraine with the Ian Black betting scandal erupting around him, Rangers manager Ally McCoist confessed that he was glad to have another big headache.
From today, Rangers can play all of their eight summer signings but the irresistible form of the team so far means that McCoist has an age-old situation to deal with.
“I’ve now possibly got a headache that every other Rangers manager has had,” said McCoist, “I have a selection problem.
“We have numbers and I’ve always said that’s what this club should have – a healthy competition for places.
“There are eight or nine left and the eight boys coming in will definitely benefit the squad. They might not all play at the same time but they could. We will definitely pick and choose and it’s nice to have that problem.”
Arbroath are the latest team to try and stop Rangers juggernaut advance to the League One title, and they will be depressed to read about what McCoist has seen.
He explained: “I wouldn’t want to tempt fate about the game but you can definitely see an edge to training sessions, which is very healthy because the boys know they’ve got to perform and train well to have any chance of playing, which is good. That’s the way it should be.”
About the only worry would be that his team’s rhythm could be upset. “That’s a possibility,” said McCoist, “but at the same time if you can bring in a few guys the pressure is right on them to perform because the lads have been doing well when they’ve not been in the side.
“We’ve been delighted with the level of consistency we’ve had in the performances, which we never had last year. The lads were terrific in terms of winning the league by 24 points but we didn’t feel there was a level of consistency. There were some good performances and some bang average performances.
“But we’re hopeful we’ve got a squad this year that can, not only go on and win the league but have a far higher level of performance and consistency.
Steven Smith is one of those eight “new” players and knows it will be tough to break into a winning side, especially since his position is occupied by the latest Ranger to play for Scotland, Lee Wallace.
“I never saw the Scotland game,” said Smith, “but I am delighted for him to get back in the squad because he deserves it. He’s been outstanding in the early part of the season and his form has been great, so he deserves to get a call-up and it was good to see him get on too.
It’s a challenge for me and when I was here before it was always the same and I’m sure he’s up for the challenge as well. It’s something that I am looking forward to.
“He’s a good lad and the way he’s been playing I know I am not going to get him out of the team now, but it’s a long season and we’ll see how it goes.”
Ironically, Smith may yet get his chance today because Wallace picked up a small injury.
McCoist said: “Wallace is struggling a little bit, he’s got a wee pelvic strain and he came out of training, so I’ll see how he is in the morning.”
And, last night, the manager brought in another new face to his squad, with trialist Steve Simonsen, the 34-year-old former Stoke and Dundee goalkeeper, signing a contract until the end of the season after Scott Gallacher’s loan move to Airdrieonians.