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McAllister turns focus to Celtic after Rangers’ Euro progress

The Rangers coach expects "four or five" players to return for the derby.

McAllister turns focus to Celtic after Rangers’ Euro progress SNS Group

Rangers assistant manager Gary McAllister praised the team for reaching the group stage of the Europa League, and said he expects to see a stronger group of players ready to face Celtic on Sunday.

The Ibrox side were hit by a Covid-19 outbreak that saw a number of first team players, and manager Steven Gerrard, miss the second leg of the play-off against Alashkert, but a 0-0 draw in Armenia saw Rangers progress thanks to their 1-0 home win.

The Scottish champions, who suffered disappointment in Champions League qualification, will now be in Friday’s Europa League group stage draw.

“To do this four years on the bounce, we’re delighted,” McAllister said. “It’s great for the players.

“It would have been better if it was the Champions League but it’s brilliant for the players and the nights at Ibrox are special.”

Reflecting on a night where Rangers created chances but couldn’t make a breakthrough, even after Alashkert were reduced to ten men, the coach was philosophical and preferred to focus on the main aim being met.

“We created the best chances I felt,” he said. “Alfredo had two where you’d normally see him hit the net and Joe Aribo hit the woodwork a couple of times.

“You want to keep a clean sheet, get through the tie and play well. We ticked two of the three boxes.

“We can play better but, given the things around the game, we’re in the draw and that’s the main thing.”

Rangers will travel back to Glasgow on Friday and start preparing for the first derby of the season against a Celtic side that’s improving under the management of Ange Postecoglou.

Noting that Rangers had Kemar Roofe and John Lundstram suspended in Europe, while Fashion Sakala wasn’t registered for the tie, McAllister said the squad would be stronger for the visit of their city rivals.

“Everyone who travelled here tonight is available and by my counting we’ll be bolstered by another four or five,” he said.

“We’ve got players dealing with Covid issues, players suspended and some who have been carrying niggling injuries so we’ll be well bolstered by the weekend.

“We will get the recovery right for everyone and then what a game – 50,000 fans at our ground against one of your biggest rivals.

“These are the games you want to play in.”