Rangers forced to find cover for Klos

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The Independent Online

Rangers could be asked to prove that their second-choice goalkeeper, Lionel Charbonnier, is unable to play if they are to be allowed to sign an emergency replacement for Stefan Klos.

Rangers could be asked to prove that their second-choice goalkeeper, Lionel Charbonnier, is unable to play if they are to be allowed to sign an emergency replacement for Stefan Klos.

The Scottish champions are desperate to sign an experienced goalkeeper in time for their next Champions' League fixture, against Sturm Graz in a week's time. Klos played through the pain barrier against Galatasaray on Tuesday night but now Rangers have accepted his ankle problem needs immediate treatment.

Their manager, Dick Advocaat, last night confirmed that Klos was definitely out for the match in Austria and is likely to be ruled out for four to six weeks. Charbonnier has also been out of action with a calf injury that is taking a long time to heal and that leaves Advocaat with just the teenager Mark Brown.

Uefa, Europe's governing body, allows clubs to sign emergency cover if more than one senior goalkeeper is injured, providing the newcomer has not already featured in a Uefa competition this season. But they also have the power to insist on proof that the two goalkeepers really are unable to play and that could mean an appointed expert being sent to Glasgow to check them out.

Klos kept a clean-sheet against Galatasaray as the joint Group D leaders shared a goalless draw, but his discomfort was plain for all to see and he had real trouble with long kicks.

Graz beat Monaco 2-0 to maintain their 100 per cent home record, and, if Rangers lose in the Arnold Schwarzenegger stadium next Wednesday, they will drop out of the top two places.

A Uefa spokesman said requests for replacement goalkeepers were usually looked upon favourably. He said: "If they make their request and there are two goalkeepers who are regulars injured then it is possible."

Advocaat has already been rebuffed in his search for a replacement, with Dundee's Robert Douglas opting to move to Celtic instead and Manchester United turning down an approach for Mark Bosnich.

It is a case of déjà vu for the Dutchman as he was in exactly the same position last November, on the eve of a Uefa Cup tie with Borussia Dortmund. Klos and Charbonnier were both out with hand and thigh problems respectively and Antti Niemi was on loan at Charlton, so Advocaat borrowed Everton's Thomas Myhre. The Norwegian international kept a clean-sheet in the Ibrox leg, which Rangers won 2-0, and also played in the return tie in Germany, which ended 2-0 to Dortmund and Rangers were eventually knocked out on penalties.

Meanwhile, Rangers' Dutch defender Bert Konterman believes it is now a three-horse race in Group D - with his side still the favourites. And he says the 0-0 draw the Scottish champions shared with Galatasaray has done little to alter the situation.

Sturm Graz's 2-0 victory over Monaco all but rules out the French champions, and puts the Austrians, who were dismissed as makeweights after a thrashing in Glasgow, right back in the frame.

But Konterman views the Austrians' renaissance, which has also included a comprehensive defeat of the Turks, as a serious wake-up call. He said: "I think we have had two good warnings now. Monaco lost there and Galatasaray as well. It is very difficult to play there. I didn't expect those results so it's a compliment to them."

A defeat would see Rangers overtaken by Graz and leave the Scots out of the top two in the group for the first time - an unthinkable scenario only a few weeks ago.

Only the top two go on to the next stage, with the third-placed club dropping into the Uefa Cup competition, but Konterman insisted the mood in Ibrox was still calm. He said: "Everything is in our own hands. We can prepare ourselves in a good way."

Advocaat's injury and suspension-hit squad will look back on the stunning 5-0 victory at Ibrox to boost their brittle confidence, although Graz were under-strength themselves that night.

"We showed we can play very well against Sturm Graz but they had some injuries," added Konterman. "I had a drugs test after the game and I spoke to a few of their players. They told me they had eight players out and eight is a lot. There are no weak opponents in this Champions' League. We are still confident. I think we can do a good job there."

The Dutchman was praised by his coach after keeping the Galatasaray striker Mario Jardel quiet for most of the game, although the Brazilian did get the better of him once in the second half but failed to make the most of it.

Konterman said: "We had to win and we didn't do that. But they [Galatasaray] are a strong side. They beat Real Madrid at the beginning of the season and have a lot of experienced players. They are a tough team to beat."

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