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Cup finals will not distract Rangers from Premiership task, says Ross County manager Malky Mackay ahead of Ibrox visit


By Andrew Henderson


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Ross County manager Malky Mackay expects no less than 100 per cent focus from next opponents Rangers despite the Glasgow giants preparing for two cup finals in the coming weeks.

Rangers secured their place in the Europa League final by virtue of a 3–2 aggregate win over RB Leipzig, having already reached the Scottish Cup final against Hearts on May 21.

With it appearing the Premiership title will be heading to the green and white side of Glasgow, then, some may have been hoping that Rangers would take their foot off the gas in league action to heighten their cup chances.

Malky Mackay does not think Rangers' upcoming cup finals will distract the Ibrox outfit. Picture: Ken Macpherson
Malky Mackay does not think Rangers' upcoming cup finals will distract the Ibrox outfit. Picture: Ken Macpherson

Mackay is not one of them, though, insisting that even if Rangers do rest players they will still pose a tough test for County midweek.

"When I look at what their mix of players is right now, I'll be very surprised if it's not a very strong squad that's against us on Wednesday," he stressed.

"Then they have seven days before they go and play the final, so it's going to be an intense atmosphere.

"You want to play in the best atmospheres, and you want to play against top players, and that's what we'll come up against on Wednesday night.

"They've had an incredible run to the final, and it has really put Scottish football on the map again which is fantastic credit to Rangers.

"They have two finals in 10 days, and we have a league game in there, so we have to make sure that we're on the ball."

A different Rangers side?

In the first half of the season, Ross County twice lost 4–2 to Rangers. That, however, was when the Ibrox ship was being steered by Steven Gerrard.

When the sides met again with Giovanni van Bronckhorst leading the Gers to Dingwall in January, though, the Staggies earned a dramatic late draw as teenager Matthew Wright scored a stoppage time equaliser to end the match 3–3.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst took over as Rangers manager last November. Picture: Ken Macpherson
Giovanni van Bronckhorst took over as Rangers manager last November. Picture: Ken Macpherson

Since then, Rangers have gone on to great success in Europe and in cup competition domestically, but Mackay only sees subtle differences in the Rangers set up after the change of manager.

"There's a couple of different personnel playing, and they're playing a slightly different formation," Mackay explained.

"Let's be clear, last year under Steven Gerrard the team was fantastic and won the league.

"Things seemed to be going well again for Steven Gerrard this year, so you've got to give credit to Giovanni van Bronckhorst coming in and adding another layer to the team that was already there, putting his own stamp on it while not stalling.

"Rangers have continued to kick on, and like anything there will be favourites for managers. Some players will play and others won't.

"For example, John Lundstram was in and out of the team when Steven Gerrard was manager, but he has become one of the mainstays in this team that everybody is talking about.

"They've lost their centre forward too. (Alfredo) Morelos hasn't been available, and at times (Kemar) Roofe hasn't been available either, but what we've seen is the way Gio carries himself as well.

"That's something else that's quite impressive considering the intensity of the job and the pressure that he's under – especially the way that Celtic and Ange (Postecoglou) have been. They are both credits to their clubs right now in the way they carry themselves."

Connor Randall is an injury doubt for Ross County after going off against Motherwell. Picture: Ken Macpherson
Connor Randall is an injury doubt for Ross County after going off against Motherwell. Picture: Ken Macpherson

Team news

Ross County have a couple of knocks to assess before making the trip to Ibrox.

Connor Randall went off injured early in the second half against Motherwell last Saturday, and Mackay has revealed he was struggling with a dead leg after a hefty challenge – but should be fine to return to the side to face Rangers.

Harry Paton, meanwhile, missed the match against the Steelmen altogether after picking up an issue in training last Friday.

He is a bigger doubt for County, and may have to wait until the Staggies' final match of the Scottish Premiership season against Dundee United on Saturday to return to action.


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