Le Guen to rest players as Old Firm clash takes precedence

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The Independent Football

The Rangers manager Paul Le Guen has promised to make changes for tonight's Uefa Cup tie against Partizan Belgrade. His side have already qualified for the last 32 and face an Old Firm derby on Sunday needing to cut Celtic's 16-point lead in the Scottish Premier League. The captain Barry Ferguson will be rested as he is one booking away from suspension.

Le Guen avoided questions on Steven Pressley, refusing to confirm or deny whether he was interested in bringing the released Hearts skipper to Ibrox. "I want to speak about tomorrow's game," he said. "It is your story, it's not mine. I am not interested in answering your question."

The Frenchman instead focused on the difficulty in preparing his squad for their vital Old Firm game while trying to earn the point needed to secure top spot in Uefa Cup Group A. Rangers could finish second or third if they lose to the Serbians, meaning a tie against one of the sides dropping out of the Champions' League, or another group winner.

"It is a crucial week, with two massive games and it is difficult to play Thursday and Sunday at [noon]," Le Guen said. "I think we are the only country that must cope with that. But we must cope. There will be some change because of Sunday's game. But we must be aware it's an important game. It's important to finish top of the group.

"The championship is the basic of the season and Sunday's game is important for us, but I don't want to forget [this] game. We are able to play well in both. It is important to keep our momentum. A win is a win. It's always better for the fans. And for the draw it's better for us to finish top."

The former Lyon manager agreed team spirit at its highest level since he came to Ibrox, following the 3-0 win over Hibernian on Saturday. He said: "I think so but I am cautious because during the beginning of the season I felt that sometimes. I think now each player knows each other better and that is good for the team spirit."

The striker Kris Boyd remains out with an ankle injury, while the defender Sasa Papac is cup-tied.

Rangers provisional squad: McGregor, Hutton, Buffel, Hemdani, Svensson, Clement, Adam, Novo, Prso, Sionko, Sebo, Klos, Rae, Smith, Lowing, Ashikodi, Stanger, Rodriguez.