GLASGOW: Rangers face a nervous wait to see whether Danish winger Peter Lovenkrands will be fit for Saturday's potential title decider against Celtic.
The Dane's speed always gives Celtic's muscular but one-paced defence serious problems and he has a great record of scoring against Martin O'Neill's side in crucial matches.
That was exactly why Gers boss Alex McLeish was quick to substitute him after he took knocks to both his knee and ankle in the 2-0 win at Dundee on Sunday and then assiduously played down what looked like a more serious injury.
“He has hurt his knee and his ankle but we don't think it is too bad,” McLeish insisted. “He jumped with big Lee Wilkie in a defensive situation and actually won the ball, which surprised me. We think he will be okay.”
Rangers will go into the showdown at Celtic Park trailing their old rivals by eight points. Barring a minor miracle in the second half of the season, a victory would almost certainly ensure Celtic reclaim the title.
McLeish was given a boost by the return to action of Australian skipper Craig Moore against Dundee.
But he has concerns about Shota Arveladze, who suffered a groin strain, and Dutch striker Michael Mols, who was missing altogether with a hamstring problem.
McLeish said: “Michael has had a hamstring tightness over the last four or five weeks, maybe even longer. It is not a pull as such but more like a nerve problem so we thought it would be ideal to give him a rest.”
Goals from Nuno Capucho and Michael Ball ensured Rangers did not lose any more ground to Celtic and, some wayward finishing apart, McLeish was happy with his side's performance at Dundee.
Dundee manager Jim Duffy, meanwhile, conceded that Capucho's sixth-minute goal had been a blow from which his side had failed to recover.
“The start was the biggest problem. We lost a goal early on and that allowed Rangers to dominate the match. Mikel Arteta was getting on the ball and stroking it about and we were chasing shadows for 20 minutes.”
“The second was a bit of a freak goal, although it happens quite a lot in games when people make runs and the goalkeeper was looking to see if there was a little flick coming but it went straight in.
“It did go straight in. Nobody touched it. It also gave us a mountain to climb. In the second half there was a lot of endeavour from our side but no real finesse or punch on the end of it.” – AFP