Football: Rangers ready to roll

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The Independent Online
Rangers will go into their European Cup qualifying round tie against GI Gotu of the Faroe Isles tonight - and the start of the Scottish season - without the services of their Italian recruit, Lorenzo Amoruso.

The pounds 4m summer signing from Fiorentina is expected to be out for at least a fortnight after an ankle injury. The stylish central defender will have an operation on Monday, when Rangers open their League programme by facing Hearts at Ibrox.

One bonus for Walter Smith, Rangers' manager, is that his long-term injury victim Stuart McCall will not need another operation on his knee, as was first feared. "That was the initial impression but thankfully it doesn't look as though he will need more surgery," Smith said.

"Amoruso has a slight abrasion on his Achilles and will go into hospital on Monday. We are looking at him returning to training 10 days after that, so he could be out for two weeks."

Brian Laudrup will miss tonight's match after picking up a back injury in the first leg against Gotu last week, but is expected to return against Hearts. Rangers entertain the Faroese side with a comfortable 5-0 lead from the first leg and seem assured of their place in the preliminary round against the Swedish champions, IFK Gothenburg.

The England midfielder Paul Gascoigne and the Italian central defender Sergio Porrini are expected to return tonight - they were ruled out of the trip to the Faroes through suspension. However, the former Tottenham and Newcastle man will miss the first three domestic fixtures because of a ban picked up last season.

Smith is anxious to see how Gascoigne fares alongside Sweden's Jonas Thern in a competitive atmosphere, though, and Gotu, who were overrun last week, could find themselves chasing shadows.

"I am hoping they will become two of our mainstays in midfield," Smith said. "I believe they can complement each other and link up well together. This is a chance to see what they can do in a match situation."

Morton are poised to ask the long-serving Rangers midfielder Ian Durrant to become their player-coach. However, the Scottish First Division club's director of football, Allan McGraw, stresses he is not yet ready to make Durrant his side's manager.

"The idea would be for the two of us to work closely together, a blend of his youth and my experience," McGraw, who gave up the manager's job this summer, said. "I would pick the team, but Ian would work with the players and if it worked out may eventually become manager here."