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Rangers are good enough to push Celtic all the way in title race, says Bates

 

By Andy Newport

David Bates insists Rangers' jubilant reaction to landing Celtic in the semi-finals of the William Hill Scottish Cup is not a sign of over-confidence from the Ibrox troops.

Boss Graeme Murty revealed a huge roar erupted from his side's dressing room after beating Falkirk in the last eight as they landed a Hampden showdown with their Old Firm rivals.

But speaking ahead of this Sunday's Ladbrokes Premiership clash with Brendan Rodgers' treble-chasers, defender Bates said: "We'd won against Falkirk and were buzzing to be in the next round.

"Whoever we got, we'd have cheered anyway. Yeah there was a cheer but we're just happy to be in the next round with a big game coming up."

Gers have won nine of their last 10 games across all competitions and can close to within three points of their arch-rivals if they triumph at Ibrox this weekend, albeit having played a game more.

But while the Light Blues faithful are working themselves into a fervour over the possibility of their side forcing an unlikely title race, Bates stressed Murty's squad are not getting carried away.

"All the fans will feel the pressure but for us it's just another Old Firm game we need to go into (with confidence) because anything can happen in the Old Firm," said the 21-year-old former Raith Rovers centre-back.

"We are confident going in. We're closer in the table but no one expected us to be this close to Celtic.

"But in the dressing room we all thought we could be as close. Everyone wrote us off at the start of the season but I think we've done well so far.

"Coming into this game, everyone will probably write us off again. They have written us off on every other occasion.

"But we're not really looking at that. We're just confident from the last few results. We've won nine out of the last 10 and we're looking to get another good result."

Russell Martin was due to face the media yesterday but the centre-back failed to report amid rumours he is struggling with a back injury.

His defensive partner Bates was called in at the last minute to answer reporters' questions and it now appears he will pair up with Bruno Alves at the back.

Belfast Telegraph

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