Kyle Lafferty not cause of Euro pain, says Rangers manager McCoist
Under-fire Rangers manager Ally McCoist has stood by his decision to throw Kyle Lafferty into second half action against Maribor on Thursday night, despite claims from the Slovenians’ manager that it swung the tie in their favour.
Northern Ireland striker Lafferty made a return to the side at half time in favour of Steven Naismith in their Europa League qualifier, with the Gers, at that stage, 1-0 up.
However, Maribor manager Darko Milanic said in his post-match assessment that replacing Naismith, who had been booked, with the Fermanagh man, changed the course of the game.
Milanci had said: “The key thing was the change of Naismith for Lafferty. We had space in midfield and a lot of movement after that. I was very surprised about the change because it changed the match completely.”
However, reflecting on the comments, McCoist retorted: “You read one or two comments and hindsight is the best thing in the world. But I certainly do not regret the decision to make the substitution because that had to be made.
“Without going into too much detail, believe me, it had to be made. Whether it was the right man I put on, that's up for debate. As a manager, you will always get different opinions and I totally accept that.
“We didn't put Kyle on to play in a straight 4-4-2, we wanted him to play a little bit deeper but it didn't work out that way.
“Listen, if our midfield can't match up against their midfield, then I think we've got a problem.
“In the second half we did have a problem and they definitely got the better of us in the second half.”
Although on Thursday McCoist was at pains to point out what Lafferty brings to the side — he said after the game: “Lafferty has looked good in training and was keen to get back playing. Towards the end of last season he was one of the key players. It's still early for him and he will come good.” — the boss is still looking to strengthen his front line.
The Ibrox side's recruitment drive gathered pace this week when they signed American duo Alejandro Bedoya and Carlos Bocanegra, with the latter making his debut against Maribor.
But McCoist says there are still a number of players on his radar and he is determined to beat the transfer deadline and boost his numbers further.
He said: “We are still looking and we will continue to look as long as the window is open.
“There are three or four players we are looking at in forward positions and we will keep looking and keep searching away.
“There is nothing concrete or immediate happening at the moment but that's not to say that we would be averse to bringing one or two other players in.”
However, one player who will not be making the switch to Rangers is Czech defender Marek Suchy.
He was linked with a loan move from Spartak Moscow but McCoist has now dropped his interest following the capture of Bocanegra.
He said: “We were interested in signing him but I'll be honest with you and say it has cooled now that we have got Carlos in.
“We were interested but the signing of Carlos would put an end to that.”
Bocanegra made his Rangers bow in the play-off first leg following his move from St Etienne late on Wednesday night.
The US skipper had left his home near Lyon in the early hours of the morning and flown to Frankfurt then Graz before being driven to the team's base in Slovenia.
And McCoist had nothing but praise for his new signing.
He said: “I spoke to him once on the phone, he told me he wanted to come, and then made unbelievable efforts to come.
“It was just a complete and utter breath of fresh air and I thought 'he'll do for me'.”
Meanwhile, McCoist declined to become embroiled in a “squabble” with the Bosnian federation after Rangers denied their claims that Sasa Papac is suffering from pneumonia.
He said: “Not being a medical man, all I can say is that from the conversation I had with him he was feeling a lot better and that's the most important thing. The squabble about how ill he is doesn't really concern me that much.”
Rangers have obtained a work permit for Matt McKay, although the Australian is unlikely to feature until next week, and the international still needs a visa.