McCulloch hopes for Rangers to top charts

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The Independent Football

The Rangers midfielder Lee McCulloch is desperate to take centre stage in Lyon next week after being reduced to the role of backing vocalist for their opening Champions League group game.

McCulloch was suspended for the Group E encounter against Stuttgart last week but got caught up in the Ibrox atmosphere as Rangers came from behind to triumph 2-1.

"It was great," McCulloch said. "I was up with the fans for the first half and when they started singing their songs I started singing with them.

"To get three points in the first game is just the start we wanted and hopefully we can build on it in France next week."

The 29-year-old is eager to be involved when Rangers take on Lyon at the Stade Gerland . He feels the French champions will be under pressure to atone for their 3-0 defeat in Barcelona. "Of course, one of the reasons for coming to this club is to be involved in these games and I would love to take part in the Lyon game," McCulloch said.

"There is pressure on them because they are at home and they lost their first match.

"They still have some very good players," he added, "so I think as long as we don't lose it will be a good result for us.

"It will be a hard night because they will have 40,000 fans behind them but you don't get easy Champions League games.

"I played against Milan Baros when he was at Aston Villa and we know he is dangerous but he has been a sub most of the time so it shows you the quality they have.

"It's a tough game but we are going there with confidence."

Elsewhere, the Scottish Football Association has confirmed they have received Celtic manager Gordon Strachan's appeal against his two-match touchline ban. As a result, the suspension has been put on hold, with Strachan allowed to take his place in the dugout for last night's CIS Insurance Cup third-round match against Dundee.

Strachan's ban was reduced from the automatic four matches for a second offence to two games by the SFA disciplinary committee on Tuesday.

The SFA upheld the misconduct case against the Celtic manager, who was sent to the stands in the game against Hearts at Parkhead on 29 April after an altercation with referee Stuart Dougal, but found grounds to reduce the punishment.

Celtic are adamant the manager should be cleared and the SFA confirmed Strachan will be allowed to go about his duties as usual until an appeals board hear his challenge.

Strachan faces another possible ban after being sent to the stand by referee Charlie Richmond following an argument with a steward in Celtic's match against Aberdeen at Pittodrie last month. Because of the appeal, that case must now be put back.

The Hearts forward Christian Nade believes strike partner Calum Elliot deserves more credit than he receives for his unselfish work in attack.

Elliot scored twice in extra-time to help Hearts beat Dunfermline 4-1 in the CIS Insurance Cup third round on Tuesday. He had missed chances inside the 90 minutes to carry Hearts through, but the 20-year-old eventually came good with two fine finishes.

Nade admits Elliot carries more than his share of the burden in the Hearts attack, with his industrious approach taking the strain off his fellow forwards.

Nade said: "I'm very happy for him. He works hard every day and he deserved to score. I like playing with him because he runs everywhere, so he works for me, too. I'm very happy to play with him, he is a very good player."

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