Rangers penalty debate rages

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The Independent Football

The Rangers manager, Alex McLeish, admits his team get more penalties than the opposition - but he has urged rival managers to understand why.

The fall-out from Rangers' midweek game at Hearts continues to dominate the Scottish agenda, with the referee Hugh Dallas having awarded McLeish's side a last-minute penalty on the advice of linesman Andy Davis. Fernando Ricksen converted the spot-kick to seal a 2-1 win and maintain the six-point Rangers' six-point over Celtic.

Hearts had their new signing Saulius Mikoliunas sent off for confronting Davis about the decision. And the debate has raged about whether officials in Scotland are biased towards the Old Firm.

McLeish argues that the reason his side have won so many spot-kicks is that they break forward and enter opposition danger zones more often than most sides. He said: "The big teams are more often in the opposition penalty box so there is going to be more scrutiny when something happens.

"You could take it further and look at the Champions' League where the same kind of thing is being levelled. It is a debate that we will be arguing about until the day we die."

Hearts yesterday asked the Scottish Football Association to investigate Dallas's decision.

Victory over Inverness would extend Rangers' lead to nine points. Striker Dado Prso was sent off in the Hearts match so he misses out through suspension. That opens the door for the Scotland international Steven Thompson to replace him, with Shota Arveladze and Peter Lovenkrands not yet fit.

Elsewhere, Stéphane Henchoz is expected to recover from an ankle injury to return to the Celtic squad for tomorrow's game against Hibernian at Easter Road. The Switzerland defender missed the win over Dundee after being injured against Clyde last weekend.

Shaun Maloney will be out for two to three weeks having injured his ankle in the Tennent's Scottish Cup.

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