McLeish praises dedication of overseas contingent

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The Independent Football

The Rangers defender Henning Berg said he feared his team-mate Fernando Ricksen had swallowed his tongue following a clash of heads during his side's Champions' League victory over Stuttgart.

The Dutchman was knocked unconscious in a collision with Berg at Ibrox and was detained overnight in hospital. He now faces a lay-off of up to four weeks, but Berg feared it might have been even more serious.

"I got a real fright at the time because he was unconscious on the pitch, and all kinds of things go through your mind when that happens," he said. "He crumpled to the turf straightaway after I collided with him, and I thought he was really badly injured."

Rangers came back from a goal down at half-time to win 2-1 with late goals from Christian Nerlinger and the substitute Peter Lovenkrands, a German and a Dane respectively.

The Rangers manager, Alex McLeish, defended his decision to kick off without a single Scot in the starting line-up. That has happened once before in European competition, in July 2001 under Dick Advocaat when Rangers won 3-0 at Maribor in a Champions' League qualifier.

Maurice Ross did get off the bench to play a part, just as Barry Ferguson and Neil McCann did in Slovenia two years ago. "We have lost Barry Ferguson, who is a real Scot," McLeish said. "It is often levelled at the foreign guys that when the chips are down, maybe they disappear. But there are a lot of players at this club who know what it means to the Rangers fans to give everything in the jersey when perhaps things are not going well.

"Guys like Shota Arveladze, when we really had to do it, he was up there winning balls in the air against guys who were three or four inches bigger than him, and that's the kind of determination and desire that I need from players."

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