Rangers hoping to spoil title party at Tynecastle

Rangers Dean Shiels
Rangers Dean Shiels

It’s party-time in Edinburgh on Saturday as Rangers head to Tynecastle to face a Hearts side that will be presented with the Championship trophy following the conclusion of the game.

For the Ibrox men however this is no party – there is serious business at stake for Stuart McCall’s side with victory essential if there is any chance of finishing second and thereby shortening the pathway to the ultimate goal of winning promotion to the Premiership.

For Northern Ireland international Dean Shiels there is one simple goal – to finish the job in hand by securing all three points in the capital.

“First and foremost we have to win at Tynecastle. It’s one game at a time. We can’t even begin to look beyond the Hearts game. What is happening at Falkirk doesn’t affect us,” he said.

It is of course Hibernian who visit Westfield whilst Rangers are in action in Gorgie.

Alan Stubbs’ side are in pole position in the race to finish second but face Scottish Cup Finalists Falkirk whom they have yet to overcome this season in four earlier meetings.

including most recently a Scottish Cup Semi-Final tie at Hampden just two short weeks ago.

The advantages of finishing second have been the subject of much debate in recent weeks and while it is true that there is one fewer obstacle to overcome in that eventuality, there is also a school of thought that suggests it is preferable to keep playing rather than await the outcome of the first Play-off tie.

‘Deano’ was sanguine as he reflected on the options.

“We’re looking to finish second – but it’s not make or break. We can still gain promotion by finishing third,” Shiels added.

“The real pressure will come in the Play-Offs. It’s not do-or-die time yet – that comes later.”

Shane Ferguson, meanwhile, played in another Under-20 fixture against St. Mirren in midweek but is unlikely to feature this weekend due to a lack of match fitness and the same applies to another Newcastle United loanee, namely defender Remie Streete who also featured on Monday.

Ian Black is available again following suspension but injury problems continue to plague the Light Blues defensively at least with Sebastien Faure, Steven Smith, Richard Foster and youngster Ryan Sinnamon all remaining absent.

Marius Zaliukas suffered an ankle injury against Falkirk at Ibrox last weekend but is expected to play.

Robbie Neilson’s men may not have anything tangible to play for but Hearts will certainly want to wind down their campaign in style, even if in doing so they help their greatest rivals Hibernian.

Meanwhile, one positive piece of news for Rangers was the announcement from the Scottish Football Association that Interim Chairman Paul Murray has passed their ‘fit and proper’ process and has been given the go-ahead to contribute to the rebuilding of the club.