Rangers switch focus to Scottish Cup clash with Dundee

Rangers' manager Mark Warburton.
Rangers' manager Mark Warburton.

Rangers may be homing in on the Championship title and automatic promotion but attention turns to the Scottish Cup this weekend with Dundee as visitors to Ibrox at the quarter-final stage.

There will be no Michael O’Halloran or Billy King in the home line-up – both being ineligible, having played for St. Johnstone and Hearts respectively in earlier rounds of the competition but Mark Warburton was certainly aware of that when he rested both Kenny Miller and Barrie McKay against Raith Rovers on Tuesday evening.

Few would dispute that both O’Halloran and King have been in fine form of late – and will be sorely missed – but the return of Miller and McKay should certainly compensate.

Leading goal-scorer Martyn Waghorn remains a long-term injury absentee but the Ibrox Boss is unlikely to make many changes – other than those enforced – from midweek, although Dominic Ball may well be utilised in the holding area in midfield.

Dens Manager Paul Hartley made clear where his own and the club’s priorities lie with a team selection at Celtic Park in midweek that omitted leading goal-scorer Kane Hemmings, Greg Stewart, Gary Harkins and Darren O’Dea. Despite fielding such a weakened side Dundee still actually secured a draw at Parkhead and could well have snatched a win in the closing stages.

Currently lying fifth in the Premiership with 36 points from 28 games, the ‘Dark Blues’ will certainly not be travelling to Glasgow simply to make up the numbers.

Former Ranger Hemmings could well come back to haunt his old club, as indeed could another former Ibrox man – winger Rory Loy. Hemmings has netted 20 goals this season and it will be interesting to see how he reacts to returning to his old haunt where his career was so badly blighted by injury.

Dundee will present a formidable test for the Light Blues, arguably they offer the toughest challenge and best side encountered by Warburton’s men thus far during the current campaign.

This is certainly a tie that will give the Ibrox Management, players and fans a clear indication of just how well they will cope should they, as they surely will, find themselves in the Premiership next season

One new face presented to the Ibrox legions against Raith Rovers on Tuesday was 17-year-old Liam Burt, the Scotland Under-21 International Captain who made his debut as a second-half substitute.

Burt has recently signed a new contract, extending his commitment to the club until 2018 and is highly regarded by the Ibrox management as Mark Warburton emphasised.

“He is a young talent and I am sure he will make a big impact. He trained with the first team squad at an early age, his attitude is good and he shows no fear. He is a young boy with a lot of work to do but he is a real prospect.”

Rangers go into this cup-tie seeking their 100th goal of the current campaign in all competitions.

Currently sitting on 99, and having only failed to find the net once this season, the odds are that it will arrive against Dundee, although whether it is a decisive one or not remains to be seen.