Clement brands away fans lockout for his first Old Firm derby 'a pity'

The Belgian is gearing up for his first Old Firm derby this weekend.

Philippe Clement admits the lack of Rangers supporters for his first Old Firm derby is “a pity for football”.

The Belgian, unbeaten in 16 games since arriving at Ibrox in October, is set for his first clash against the Light Blues’ arch rivals, but due to an ongoing dispute between the two Glasgow giants concerning away tickets when they meet each other, there will be no Gers supporters at Celtic Park on Saturday.

Clement is “curious” as to how his first game against the Hoops will pan out, even with no away fans in attendance although he admits that situation is disappointing.

“In our hearts they will be there,” said the Gers boss, who revealed defender Connor Goldson has trained, with the possibility of some others from his lengthy injury list also being available.

“It is a pity for football. It is always better to have two sides, it creates a certain atmosphere.

“It is a pity for football, but it is decisions made above my head, with knowing much more things than I know.

“I try to control the controllable, the things I can do, the things we need to do as a team, with my staff and players and the rest is not important. We are not focused on that, we are focused on the football.

“In the end it is always decided on the pitch between those four white lines and 11 against 11 – I hope.

“People can yell and shout whatever they like, but as long as they are not running on the pitch, it is OK with me.”

Goldson came off late against Motherwell at Fir Park on Christmas Eve with a groin injury while Rangers were already without Nico Raskin, Tom Lawrence, Ryan Jack, Borna Barisic, Ben Davies, John Lundstram, Kemar Roofe, Jose Cifuentes and Danilo with various injuries.

Asked about key centre-back Goldson, Clement, whose side are five points behind cinch Premiership leaders Celtic with two games in hand, said: “He trained so we will assess this afternoon and tomorrow. But he did train today.

“There was also a couple of others. I will make my decisions tomorrow. I can’t answer today because some trained and I don’t know if there will be a reaction.”

Clement moved on Thursday to strengthen his squad with the loan signing of Portuguese forward Fabio Silva from Wolves until the end of the season.

Silva is set to join Rangers from January 1, subject to international clearance.

After joining Wolves from Porto in the summer of 2020 for what was then a club-record fee in the region of £35.6million, Silva had loan spells at both Anderlecht and PSV Eindhoven last season.

Fabio Silva signed for Rangers on Thursday evening on loan from Wolves.

Clement said: “Yes, I’m happy about that because he hasn’t played too many minutes this season so we need time to get him into a good shape, although his stats were quite good for the minutes he played so you see it’s somebody who’s been working on himself and his physical abilities, so that’s already positive.

“I think it’s a really clear sign from the club that players with that reputation and quality want to come to Rangers.

“He’s very motivated and it’s going to be interesting to integrate him into the team. In that way, it’s important that he comes early and we can give him a programme during his winter break.”

With less enthusiasm, Clement addressed the fact that Abdallah Sima has been called up to the Senegal squad for the Africa Cup of Nations next month.

The attacker has scored 14 goals in 31 matches since arriving on loan from Brighton in the summer.

The Rangers boss, a former Belgium defender, said: “No, I’m not happy that he’s selected but I understand. I’ve been an international myself and it was a great honour to play for my country.

“I was always really proud every time it happened so I understand that it’s really important for the players.

“We had talks with the federation and we made an agreement that he has to leave on January 3 so he’s still available for January 2.”

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