McLeish enlists Celtic advice as Artmedia lie in wait

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Though Celtic suffered an embarrassing 5-0 away walloping in their qualifier against the Slovakians, and were unable to overturn it despite a 4-0 home win, the Rangers' manager, Alex McLeish, said yesterday he has sought advice from Celtic's Gordon Strachan.

"We've spoken about it," said McLeish, whose social contact with his former Aberdeen and Scotland team-mate has been limited since they became opposing Old Firm managers. "And I now have plenty of information on Artmedia and I know as much as Gordon does, maybe even more."

Rangers start this evening's group H fixture in equal second place with Artmedia. Both have beaten Porto 3-2, and both have lost 1-0 to the group leaders Internazionale. Hence whoever comes out on top from their double-header in the next two games should be in a decent position to progress.

No Scottish side has achieved the feat. Rangers have not qualified beyond the group stages in seven seasons. McLeish, under pressure domestically because Rangers have already dropped 13 points in 10 SPL games, argued yesterday that football's unpredictability, rather than Rangers' weaknesses, are one reason for that.

"At Dundee United at the weekend we drew, but how can you account for results like West Brom beating Arsenal? There are no guarantees in football."

There have certainly been no guarantees about some of McLeish's strange team selections this season. But one player who is unlikely to feature tonight is Francis Jeffers, who is injured, leaving only two fully fit first-team strikers, Dado Prso and Federico Nieto, if McLeish sticks with a 4-4-2 line-up.

Artmedia warmed up for tonight's game with a disappointing domestic draw, held 1-1 at the weekend by underdogs MSK Zilina.

Rangers (4-4-2): Waterreus; Ricksen, Rodriguez, Kyrgiakos, Bernard; Namouchi, Ferguson, Hemdani, Lovenkrands; Nieto, Prso.

Artmedia Bratislava (probable, 4-4-2): Cobej; Burak, Debnar, Durica, Hartig; Kozak, Vascak, Borbely, Fodrek; Obzera, Halenar.

Referee: A Ibanez (Spain).