Rangers optimistic about Old Firm meet
GLASGOW - Agence France-Presse
Rangers’ Nikica Jelavic (L) celebrates his goal against Dunfermline with Kirk Broadfoot (R) during their SPL match. REUTERS photoRangers manager Ally McCoist insists his side will be ready for today’s Old Firm derby with Celtic despite the defeat to St Mirren on Christmas Eve.
The Ibrox side saw its lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League cut to just one point as the team lost 2-1 in Paisley while Celtic won its eighth match in a row against Kilmarnock.
At one stage Rangers held a 12 point advantage over their Glasgow rivals but a recent slump of form means Celtic could enter 2012 as the league leaders if they can come out on top in today’s crucial crunch.
However, Gers gaffer McCoist denies the title momentum has now swung in favor of Celtic and said form counted for nothing in an Old Firm match.
“We will be ready for the game, I can guarantee you that,” the Rangers manager said. “It’s going to be a tough game but we will be ready and the players won’t need lifted for that one because it’s a big, big game. Celtic are on a good run of form at the moment in terms of victories, but it counts for absolutely nothing.
“The truth of the matter is I would rather be a point ahead than a point behind. Of that there is no doubt.”
Rangers will be without center back Dorin Goian for the match following his sending off in the match against St Mirren.
Meanwhile, Celtic boss Neil Lennon says his players will be looking for revenge after losing the first Old Firm derby of the season 4-2 at Ibrox.
“We didn’t do ourselves justice at Ibrox,” said Lennon. “So I am looking to my team to be highly motivated and play better and compete better than they did in the second 45 minutes of the first Old Firm game.
“If they do that they will give themselves a great chance of winning the game.
“Whatever formation we face on Wednesday, they are the champions and have had a good mentality over the last three or four years.
“But we are in a good place and I want us to go out and stamp our authority on the game if we can.”
Defender Emilio Izaguirre is fully recovered from an ankle break earlier in the season and was on the bench for Saturday’s win over Kilmarnock.
And Lennon revealed the Honduran international Kelvin Wilson, who came on as a substitute against Killie, were in contention to start.
Elsewhere, Hibernian, who is still waiting to win a point under new boss Pat Fenlon, welcomes Inverness Caledonian Thistle to Easter Road.