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Europa League: Ally urges Rangers to keep it clean

By Lisa Gray

Manager Ally McCoist has warned Rangers against losing their discipline when they take on Maribor in tonight’s Europa League play-off.

The Ibrox boss has witnessed the dismissals of three of his players in their last two games and says they must be more “clever” when it comes to cautions.

Steven Whittaker and Madjid Bougherra — who has since joined Qatari outfit Lekhwiya — were both sent off as Rangers crashed out of Champions League qualifying to Malmo.

And Maurice Edu also saw red in Saturday's 2-0 win against Inverness Caledonian Thistle, after netting the second goal in the SPL clash.

McCoist said: “The Malmo game was definitely a disappointment. To have two players red-carded isn't ideal under any circumstances and I thought both of them were needless red cards.

“Maurice Edu's red card at Inverness was also needless so we have spoken about it.

“There hasn't been any malice involved in the red cards or real devilment in any of the challenges, it's just been a bit of naivety that has cost us. So we have to be more game intelligent and be clever in terms of our yellow and red cards, there is no doubt about that.”

Asked if he expects Rangers to be more physical than their hosts, McCoist said: “I'm not sure that we are more physical but that side of the game certainly doesn't scare us at all.

“We will not go out and try to intimidate and be over-physical, we will play the game in the right manner and try to play football.

“In terms of the physical side of the game, we can handle that. That isn't a problem for us.”

McCoist is short on defensive options ahead of the first leg in Slovenia after David Weir and Kyle Bartley missed the trip through injury, while Whittaker and Sasa Papac are suspended.

However, Lee McCulloch should recover from a knee injury and McCoist was impressed by youngster Ross Perry when he replaced Bartley at the weekend.

He said: “We are missing our skipper David Weir and having Kyle Bartley coming off in the first half at Inverness isn't ideal, that goes without saying, especially with Madjid Bougherra being away.

“It's not a concern, it's just something we will have to have a look at it. We've got options.

“Kirk Broadfoot can play at centre-back, Lee Wallace can come in from the left side and Lee McCulloch can play there.

“I thought Ross Perry did well when he came on for Kyle at the weekend so that's another option. Although it's not ideal, there are no panic buttons being pressed.”

Despite having several players unavailable, McCoist believes Rangers head into this match in better shape in terms of their form than they were against Malmo.

He added: “Without wanting to tempt fate, I think we are certainly looking a little bit better and looking a bit sharper.

“The games at the start of the season have obviously helped us and in recent performances, including Malmo away, I thought we played well. I can see a gradual improvement. We are not back to where we can be but we are heading in the right direction.”

McCoist revealed he has sought the lowdown on Maribor from new signing Dorin Goian, whose former club Palermo overcame the Slovenians at the same stage last year.

The Rangers boss said: “He's got nothing but praise for them, absolutely nothing but praise. Especially at home, he said they were very, very good and we will have to look at that as well.

“They've got one or two away from the team from that particular time but they've got good players and the know their way around a football field so they will certainly be a threat. Big Goian did say they were a more than capable side.”

Meanwhile, Rangers have confirmed they have reached agreement with Swedish club Orebro for the immediate transfer of Alejandro Bedoya.

The United States international had already agreed a pre-contract with the Scottish champions but was not due to arrive at Ibrox until January.

McCoist was keen to broker a deal to recruit the player sooner after obtaining a work permit on Friday an agreement has now been reached, with Bedoya joining on a three-year deal.

Edu, commenting on his arrival, said: “I think it will be exciting to see him play and he will definitely strengthen the squad and add a little bit of quality.”

And late last night McCoist made it an American double with the capture of defender Carlos Bocanegra on a three-year deal.

Former Fulham full-back Bocanegra, 32, who joins from French side St Etienne, could play against Maribor should he receive international clearance.

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