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Rangers hat-trick hero Lafferty’s ready for big stage again

Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty geared up for Sunday’s clash Scottish Cup with Dundee United (12.05) by bagging a hat-trick as a strong Rangers’ reserve team beat Swedish tourists Ostersunds FK 6-1 in a friendly on Wednesday.

The Northern Ireland forward’s form has come under severe criticism this season, notably from former Celtic striker and now television pundit Charlie Nicholas, who described the Kesh man as having ‘no ability’.

And while the standard of opposition may not have been high, Lafferty, who has scored just two goals in this campaign — both of them in the same game against Motherwell back in December - is sure to be buoyed by rediscovering his touch.

And it was double joy for Northern Ireland’s band of Ibrox players as versatile Andrew Little was also on the scoresheet.

“That was Ostersunds’ first game of their pre-season but, regardless of that, our players’ attitudes were fantastic,” said Gers’ reserve team coach Tommy Wilson.

“I thought Kyle took his goals exceptionally well. His first was a great header and his second a very composed finish.

“So the fact he got a hat-trick was pleasing but everybody put in a lot of effort, which is what you want to see.”

Meanwhile, Rangers have been boosted by the news that Madjid Bougherra is set to return for Sunday’s Cup tie.

The defender has been out of action since aggravating a hamstring strain during the Old Firm derby win against Celtic at the end of last month.

He was not risked for Algeria's friendly with Serbia and then also missed games against St Mirren and Kilmarnock in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

However, the centre-half says he now feels fit enough to make his comeback.

Bougherra said: “I just needed to take a rest because with the hamstring it's difficult to know if it can be bad.

“I had to be careful. It's been a week and a half and I feel better. I hope I can play on Sunday and I have a good chance of playing.”

Bougherra has been in fine form again this season in the heart of defence with David Weir.

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