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Rangers boss hails clinical Lafferty

By Lisa Gray

Rangers manager Ally McCoist has hailed Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty as a key man after his first Old Firm goal in Sunday’s 4-2 win over Celtic.

McCoist went even further by declaring the ‘love’ that the club has for the 24-year-old.

After struggling to make an immediate impact after moving to Ibrox from Burnley in a £3.5m transfer, Lafferty has now hit 10 goals in his last 10 Scottish Premier League appearances, both last season and this.

McCoist believes Lafferty has now established himself as a key player at Rangers, but despite suggestions that the player wants to secure a new contract — with his current agreement running until the summer of 2012 — there are no talks under way regarding a new deal at the moment.

He said: “We missed Kyle when he was out at the start of this season with the hernia operation.

“Kyle is different. He will always get on the end of things and make things happen and create chances and miss one or two and score one or two. That's why we love him.

“I don't want to put any more pressure on him, but he seems to be coming of age in the respect that he has been more consistent — his goals have been more consistent and his performances have been more consistent.

“Hopefully he is heading in the right direction and that will continue. He is a key player for us and you want to keep all your key players.”

McCoist has yet to decide if Neil Alexander will be handed his usual Scottish Communities League Cup outing against Falkirk tonight — despite first-choice goalkeeper Allan McGregor making one of the worst blunders of his career against Celtic.

Reserve goalie Alexander has featured in all eight of Rangers' appearances in the competition over the last two seasons, including both finals which resulted in victories over St Mirren and Celtic.

But McCoist revealed that no decision has been taken yet over who will be handed the gloves when the holders begin their defence of the silverware with a third-round tie against The Bairns.

The Rangers boss said: “We have still to have a chat with both goalkeepers and I'll have a chat with Kenny McDowall and Ian Durrant about it. We will make a decision tomorrow.

“We are blessed with two really good goalkeepers and we are very happy to be in that comfortable position where you can rely on both goalkeepers coming in at any time and doing a job for you.

“In terms of who will play, that will be kept under wraps until nearer kick-off.”

McGregor was left red-faced when he allowed Badr El Kaddouri's long-range effort to slip between his legs to hand Celtic the advantage, before Rangers fought back in the second-half to win the match 4-2.

But McCoist insists, if his number one does play tonight, his selection has nothing to do with providing the player with an opportunity to redeem himself following his gaffe.

He added: “I don't think I've got to throw Allan straight back in after that game because he is the kind of character who will handle a situation absolutely fine.

“In recent seasons we have changed the goalkeepers around and Neil has played in certain cup competitions.

“I'm not saying we're not going to do that again but, in terms of having to throw Allan in, I don't feel that.

“Allan is a good enough and confident enough goalkeeper to handle any situations.

“As the last line of defence, any mistake goalkeepers make are obviously highlighted more than anything else and Allan knows he made a mistake.

“I've got no issues with Allan at all, he is a top-class goalkeeper, a confident goalkeeper and a very, very good goalkeeper and that will remain.”

Confidence may be high following the Old Firm derby success but McCoist urged caution ahead of the meeting with Steven Pressley's men.

He said: “There are potential banana skins all over the place but I always feel if we go about it in the right manner and have a desire to do well, we won't be far away.”

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