Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football Scottish Rangers

Rangers need momentum ahead of Celtic clash, says Wallace

 

By Andy Newport

Lee Wallace has urged Rangers to take care of business against Partick Thistle and ensure the Light Blues swagger into their showdown with Celtic.

Rangers have a double-header against Alan Archibald's men coming up, with a Ladbrokes Premiership trip to the Jags tonight preceding Tuesday's Firhill return for the Betfred Cup quarter-final.

Wallace knows once those clashes are out of the way, the countdown to the opening Old Firm duel of the season on September 23 will begin in earnest.

However, after putting their troubled start to the campaign behind them with back-to-back wins over Ross County and Dundee, the club captain reckons his side are hitting form at just the right time.

"Yes we are," he said. "We know first and foremost we've got two difficult games against Thistle who'll be looking for their first win of the league season.

"They have caused us problems before and we realise they've got a couple of good individuals that will be threats.

"We'll look to try and win both games and take it from there."

Boss Pedro Caixinha has made 11 new signings this summer and it will be a vastly different Rangers line-up facing the Hoops next weekend to the squad twice thrashed 5-1 by their bitter rivals last term.

But Wallace insists he does not have to spell out the importance of the upcoming derby clash to any of Caixinha's foreign recruits.

He said: "The new guys can see what next week's game is all about for themselves.

"The fact Celtic were playing in a Champions League game this week against a top-class opponent shows where they are now.

"So there'll be no need to say too much. Once we get Thistle out of the way the build-up will start, and we all know the intensity that surrounds that game.

"The guys in the dressing room will be well prepared."

Wallace has been encouraged by the strides Gers have made in recent weeks.

The addition of Colombian frontman Alfredo Morelos has been key to those improvements, with the £1m signing from HJK Helsinki grabbing seven goals in his last five appearances. But Wallace expects more to come as Morelos finds his feet at Ibrox.

He said: "Alfredo is a real goalscorer. The first thing I noticed was during a small drill in his first training session.

"Every single shot Alfredo took was (in the) back of the net into the corners. His instinctive finishing is impressive.

"That's going to benefit us moving forward. He's scoring goals now and is starting to learn his way with the language. He's having two or three lessons a week to get up to speed.

"In terms of his football language, he is learning out there every day with the manager and we can see the hard work he is putting in on the training ground to get his game sorted.

"It is an added bonus that Alfredo has come in and done really well, it's vital for us."

Caixinha, meanwhile, insists he will not be fooled by Partick's troubled start to the campaign.

While only goal difference is keeping Thistle off bottom spot, the Light Blues can go top of the Ladbrokes Premiership for a few hours at least with victory in Maryhill.

But even though results have not gone their way, Caixinha is wary of Archibald's men.

He said: "I'm not looking at that situation. When I analyse the team, of course we need to understand the moment that the teams are passing, but normally I don't go to watch them on the position they are in the table.

"To be honest, after our match against Dundee I didn't care about our position in the table, as long as you win on the match days you know that your result is going to be the most important.

"I went to watch their first match at Easter Road. I went there to watch Hibs but I also watched Partick and they have a positive approach to the game.

"It's quite understandable the way, if you watch them in two or three matches like we did, you understand the ideas that Archibald has for the team.

"They have good players, they are strong on set-pieces and they have players who can decide a match.

"So we need to have that in consideration rather than the position or the start they have had in the league and show all respect, total respect, to the opponents."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph