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Maribor could boot Rangers out of Europe

By Lisa Gray

Dorin Goian has warned Rangers of the threat Maribor could pose in the Europa League after witnessing first hand just how dangerous they can be.

The Scottish champions travel to Slovenia for Thursday's first leg of the play-offs, knowing they will be under pressure to take a step towards the group stages having already crashed out of Champions League qualifying to Malmo.

Goian is set to feature in the heart of defence 12 months after his former club Palermo defeated Maribor to book their own place in the Europa League group stages.

The Rosanero appeared to be cruising after a 3-0 win in Italy but lost 3-2 away from home and were so impressed by their opponents that they immediately snapped up two of their players, Armin Bacinovic and Josip Ilicic.

Goian said: “On Thursday, we are going to play a good team and I know that from last year because I played against them with Palermo.

“We have to be careful. They are good especially when they play forward. We won the first game in Palermo 3-0 but we lost away in Maribor 3-2. That's why I have to say that, at home, they are a good team.”

Goian has played just two Clydesdale Bank Premier League games for new club Rangers but has already featured alongside three different centre-halves.

He partnered Madjid Bougherra at St Johnstone and then paired up with Kyle Bartley at Inverness on Saturday before the Arsenal loan signing was forced out of action and was replaced by debutant Ross Perry. Rangers are now sweating over the fitness of Bartley, who has a groin strain, ahead of the European clash, with skipper David Weir still struggling with a hamstring injury and Sasa Papac and Steven Whittaker both suspended.

Goian said: “We just hope that everybody will recover soon and we hope that it's nothing serious with Bartley. We need all the players to be well. Whoever is going to play the next game, I'm sure that it will be a good game.

“Ross Perry came on and had a very good game, he is a young player and I think he has a good future.

“This is the second time that I have played for Rangers and the second time that I was playing with a different player. Now I have had three partners!

“It can be a problem, it's a problem when you have injured players. I just hope it's nothing serious and that everything is going to be okay.” Rangers at least have been boosted by a 2-0 win in the Highlands, with Nikica Jelavic converting from the penalty spot before Maurice Edu — later sent off — netted the rebound after Jelavic had a second spot kick saved following a tumble in the box by Goian.

The Romanian added: “We had a difficult game. These three points are very important.

“My penalty was a penalty — 100%.”

Caley Thistle boss Terry Butcher said: “I didn't think the first one was anywhere near a penalty. The second one was nowhere near a penalty either.”

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