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Windsor visit will help Rangers for Celtic contest: Jamie Mulgrew

By Steven Beacom

Linfield legend Jamie Mulgrew believes Rangers will treat his testimonial match at Windsor Park like a Scottish Premiership clash as they build up to next weekend's eagerly awaited Old Firm battle with Celtic.

And he is confident that the meeting of the Blues brothers in Belfast will help the Ibrox outfit in their preparations for the fixture against Brendan Rodgers' side.

For Mulgrew, who has been a Linfield favourite for 11 years, walking out on to the pitch tomorrow alongside his niece Lola-Rose will be a proud moment.

After all the 30-year-old will be playing for his beloved Blues, who he has served with great distinction, against the side he has supported since he was a boy.

Once the match kicks-off at 1pm, the former Northern Ireland international believes, however, any niceties will be forgotten.

"I know that Rangers are bringing a strong squad over and intend treating it like a SPL game and we won't be taking it easy either so hopefully it will be a good competitive game," says Mulgrew, who has won every honour in the domestic game and was part of Linfield's revered clean sweep side in 2006.

"Rangers will use the game as preparation for their league match with Celtic the following weekend and I believe the match at Windsor Park will help them as they warm up for the derby.

"For us it is also important ahead of a vital period of matches in the Irish League."

Once his benefit year was announced Mulgrew set his heart on playing Rangers and is incredibly thankful and grateful to his testimonial committee for helping to make it happen.

Following Tuesday night's 5-0 victory over Larne in the League Cup, Mulgrew is now fully focused on the Glasgow outfit's visit.

"I am going to try and take it all in and savour every moment," said the midfielder, whose wife Claire is expecting their first child later this year.

"I want it to be a fantastic day for both clubs and all the fans."

It is estimated that around 8,000 will turn up for the match which is able to take place tomorrow because of the international break.

Mulgrew adds: "To have the teams that have meant so much to me all my life on the same pitch for my testimonial is unbelievable really. I'm very happy and proud and so pleased Rangers could come across."

Mulgrew will play himself and is hungry to win the midfield battle.

He said: "I'm looking forward to playing and taking on quality players like Joey Barton in midfield. I admire the whole Rangers team in particular someone like Lee Wallace, who has stayed so loyal to the club through some tough times.

"It should be a great occasion and one that I'm excited about."

As well as thousands of fans inside the ground, two old Windsor heroes, Glenn Ferguson and Peter Thompson, are expected to be in attendance to cheer on Mulgrew from the stands.

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