OId Firm pride spurs Le Guen

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The Independent Football

With Rangers so far behind Celtic in the Scottish Premier League, it was not going to be long before the phrase "playing for pride" was invoked. Yesterday the Rangers manager, Paul Le Guen, did just that in the run-up to tomorrow's Old Firm derby.

His side go into the game at Ibrox 16 points behind Celtic, and Le Guen urged his players to give their fans something to brag about, for one week at least.

"I think that it will be a tough game obviously but it is a question of pride," Le Guen said. "We must be ready to fight. We are ready. We just want to win the game.

"The gap is apart from that," he added. "To win the game it is a question of pride. I would like the fans to be happy and proud of the players."

The former Lyon manager believes his players are better equipped to face Celtic than they were when they lost 2-0 at Parkhead in September, not long after he had joined the club.

"I think so, but perhaps Celtic are better now too," he said. "But it is good for us because I think we are more confident and we play at Ibrox, and with the support of our fans we can be hopeful. We have had a good run of games, even if we lost against Falkirk, but we have good signs."

Le Guen will make changes after resting several players - including Dado Prso and Barry Ferguson - for Thursday night's Uefa Cup win over Partizan Belgrade.

Le Guen's Celtic counterpart, Gordon Strachan, meanwhile, could know on Monday if Steven Pressley will join the club next month. The former Hearts captain recently reached an "amicable agreement" to leave the Edinburgh side in the wake of his criticism of the club's majority shareholder, Vladimir Romanov.

Pressley was invited to Celtic Park last Monday for an informal chat with Strachan, who briefly played for Coventry City at the same time as the 33-year-old Scotland defender.

The Celtic manager said: "Steven Pressley and I have known each other for a long, long time. We thought we would get together for a chat on Monday and it was great.

"We were sitting there talking about football and what we have been doing the last few years and seeing if there was something that could be done to get us working together again.

"It was nothing about finances," Strachan continued, "it was more along the lines of 'it might be all right for you, it might be all right for me, so let's talk about it'.

"And Steven said he would get back to me in about a week's time."

The Celtic defender Stephen McManus is set to return to the squad tomorrow after missing the win at Dunfermline last weekend with a groin injury. Shaun Maloney, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Craig Beattie have all returned to light training but defender Gary Caldwell (knee) is still out injured.