Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Davis delight at Rangers duo's return

Rangers midfielders Pedro Mendes and Steven Davis have hailed the imminent return of Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor as a major boost.

Ferguson and McGregor will rejoin their Ibrox team-mates at training today after manager Walter Smith softened his stance over the pair's punishment for their behaviour on Scotland duty.

Smith suggested they would never play for Rangers again after hitting them with a two-week suspension and fine as punishment for the V-signs they made at Hampden after a drinking session cost them their international places.

But he handed them a reprieve after being angered by the Scottish Football Association's treatment of the players. And both Davis and Mendes feel Ferguson and McGregor's presence in the squad ahead of Sunday's Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash at Hibernian is a big lift.

Davis said: "They are two quality players and, from a players' point of view, it's a big bonus to have them back. Hopefully they can help us out between now and the end of the season."

Rangers have beaten Falkirk, St Mirren and Motherwell without deposed captain Ferguson and goalkeeper McGregor, and Davis believes that proves morale is strong.

"Everybody has pulled together since everything happened," the Northern Ireland international said. "There have been a few different things throughout the season that have gone on and I think we have shown a good togetherness.

"We had three difficult games in a week and managed to get positive results."

Davis added: "Everything that happened is not going to have a major effect. We have had players out through injury, a lot of important players, like Kevin Thomson, who has been out for most of the season. He has been a big miss and we have missed Barry and Allan now for a few games, but if they can come back in and help us achieve our target, that will be a big bonus."

Mendes deadpanned that "I only miss my wife" when asked if he had missed playing alongside Ferguson, but the Portugal international is looking forward to renewing their partnership.

"He's a fantastic player for Rangers, it's good to have him back,” he said.

"We have a 25 or 26-man squad. If some of them are out injured, they will be missed. Of course, Barry and Allan are excellent players, very good for Rangers and Scotland, very good team-mates.

"I said before that I miss my wife but, of course, they are players we have missed in the dressing room for a couple of weeks.

"So it will be really good for everyone to have them back."

Some Rangers fans argue Mendes performs better without Ferguson beside him. The former Tottenham and Portsmouth player has partnered Maurice Edu in recent weeks but he insisted his role had not changed.

"Exactly the same," he said. "We started the season without Barry when he was recovering from injury. Then he came back and it was fantastic to play alongside him. Then for the reasons everyone knows, he was out the team.

"It was exactly the same though. Different players, but exactly the same desire to win."

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