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Champions League: Rangers must win

By Lisa Gray

Rangers manager Ally McCoist has no concerns about the safety of his players ahead of their Champions League qualifier against Malmo.

The Swedish side's league match against Djurgardens was abandoned after just 11 minutes on Saturday after firecrackers were thrown on the pitch – the second time this season that a match has been halted at the Swedbank Stadium.

Rangers head into tonight's second leg at the same venue hoping to come through the tie despite trailing to a Daniel Larsson strike at Ibrox last week.

And McCoist claims his side are focused only on the game and remaining in the competition, and he does not fear a repeat of the scenes at the weekend.

He said: “The players are looking forward to the game. These things happen in football and it goes without saying that we could do without them but our players will be fine, they are totally focused on the game. I've got no concerns at all about anything like that.”

McCoist admits he has no idea how the disruption to Malmo's preparations will impact on the clash with Rangers.

He added: “It could work for or against us. You could say they have had a bit of a rest.

“I looked at the team and the coach maybe rested one or two players and then it ended up with the vast majority of them getting a rest with the game only lasting for 11 minutes.

“You could look at that way, or you could look at it that they could have done with a match. Only time will tell but there are positives and negatives that the match was abandoned after 11 minutes.”

Rangers' hopes of progression may be hanging in the balance but McCoist hopes the fact that they know exactly what they have to do will work in their favour.

And the Light Blues boss hopes the front pairing of Nikica Jelavic and Steven Naismith can have a big part to play after they both netted in Saturday's Clydesdale Bank Premier League win at St Johnstone.

McCoist said: “The game is perfectly poised in the respect that both management teams have got a lot to think about. Strangely, it might be to our benefit that we know we need to score.

“Malmo have got the decisions to make, whether to come out and go for the goal which they think might be the killer goal or do they sit back and try to hit us on the break.

“The one definite is the fact we need to score. If we don't do that, we're out. In that respect, we know we have to score at least one goal and it was encouraging that Nikica Jelavic and Steven Naismith were both on the scoresheet on Saturday.

“They both had chances in previous games and Steven also scored against Hearts. We felt, particularly in the second half against Malmo and Hearts, that we had more opportunities to score and we didn't.

“It's very important that your forwards are playing with confidence and scoring and it will have done them no harm to score on Saturday.”

McCoist arrived in Sweden still waiting to learn whether Dorin Goian will be given the go-ahead to play in the second leg.

Rangers are appealing against a UEFA ruling that he is ineligible, after the defender missed the first leg because his work permit had not been finalised in time.

With skipper David Weir ruled out with a hamstring injury, the Romanian could have a key role to play if handed the green light.

McCoist said: “The sooner we know the better from everybody's point of view but it is out of our control so we just have to wait and see.

“But, with Davie struggling with his hamstring, it's a big position for us, it's a key position for us.”

Meanwhile, McCoist has confirmed his interest in Arsenal striker Rhys Murphy.

He said: “Rhys Murphy came up and played a closed doors game for us yesterday and did fine. He's gone back home, he has an international next week and he is going to come up and join us again towards the end of next week for the following week's training just to have a look at him.”

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