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Keep Nicholl at Ibrox, Rangers legend McCoist urges Gerrard

By Jim Gracey

Rangers legend Ally McCoist wants incoming manager Steven Gerrard to find a place for Northern Ireland hero Jimmy Nicholl at Ibrox.

Following the sacking of Graeme Murty last week, Nicholl and Jonatan Johannsen were put in charge of Rangers until the end of the season and led the side to a vital 1-0 home win over Kilmarnock on Saturday.

The result means that with two games left, Rangers are in third position one point behind Aberdeen and two ahead of Hibs. Gerrard, who officially takes over at Ibrox on June 1, wants the club to qualify for the Europa League and to do it they must finish in the top three in the Scottish Premiership.

Former Manchester United defender Nicholl, brought to Rangers in January to assist Murty, is determined to deliver on that score.

And McCoist feels that the 61-year-old Northern Ireland assistant manager, who played for his country in two World Cups and won 73 caps, should be kept on in some capacity when Gerrard takes over.

Liverpool legend Gerrard will have former Anfield team-mate and ex-Scotland captain Gary McAllister as his number two, but Rangers goalscoring hero McCoist insists that Nicholl's experience of both playing for and coaching the Glasgow giants could be useful for the new regime.

"I hope there is a place for Jimmy Nicholl at Rangers, I really do," said McCoist.

"We are all delighted and I wish Steven Gerrard and Gary (McAllister) all the best but I really do think it is important there is a bond and a tie there with someone who knows what Rangers Football Club is all about and Jimmy Nicholl would be perfect for that."

Following the weekend victory over Kilmarnock, secured by a late goal from Hamburg bound defender David Bates, Nicholl gave his verdict on what Gerrard will do with the current squad.

"He'll do a bit of weeding. He'll get the weeds sorted out from the flowers," said Nicholl, due to travel with the Northern Ireland squad for the end of season tour to Central America where Michael O'Neill's side will face Panama in Panama City on May 29 and Costa Rica in San Jose on June 3.

Rangers are away to Aberdeen tomorrow night and visit Neil Lennon’s Hibs on Sunday in massive games for the European qualification they desire.

Having watched painful heavy defeats to champions Celtic in the league and cup recently, Nicholl was pleased to see the side show some character against Kilmarnock.

“I asked for a response and we got it,” said ex-Raith Rovers boss Nicholl.

“There’s a way to lose games and the way we lost the last two against Celtic wasn’t great. They restored a wee bit of pride.

“I told them, me and Jonatan Johansson had three games in charge and, after Hibs, I’ll be away probably.

“I want to leave Steven Gerrard a legacy of European football at least and by doing that it means they’ve performed and he’s happy with what he’s seen. Nothing has been said so far about next season. If anything happens in the future then great.”

Some have suggested that Gerrard’s inexperience as boss - his only previous job was as the manager of the Liverpool under-18s - could prove a negative. Nicholl thinks otherwise.

He said: “With his football knowledge — not experience, knowledge — from all the people he’s worked with, he’ll bring that to this club and put it into effect with a certain quality of player. That’s what he’ll have to sort out now - who he’s got that’s good enough to meet the demands and standards he wants from them.”

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