Rangers will bounce back says Novo

Striker sure team will rally strongly for first Old Firm derby of the season at Ibrox
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The Independent Football

Nacho Novo has warned Celtic that Rangers will be unaffected by their home drubbing by Seville when the two sides meet for the first time this season at Ibrox on Sunday.

Walter Smith's men face their toughest possible test following the 4-1 Champions League Group G defeat by Seville on Tuesday night.

Victory for Celtic in this weekend's Old Firm derby will take them seven points clear at the top of the Scottish Premier League, which adds to the pressure on thechampions, who unravelled quite spectacularly in the second half against the classy La Liga side.

However Novo, who scored Rangers' consolation goal with two minutes remaining after coming on as a second-half substitute, is confident that he and his team-mates will be champing at the bit come Sunday lunchtime.

"I don't think we will need a lift," the Spaniard said. "There is plenty of motivation for Old Firm games. It is a special game and everybody wants to play in them. Everyone from our side will go in to the game with a winning mentality and Celtic will be the same. We are at home and we will be positive and try to win the game."

Lee McCulloch was of a similar mindset to his Spanish team-mate, insisting that there will be no need for Smith to address his team before they go out to face Celtic. "I don't think there will be any problems getting up for Sunday," the former Wigan Athletic player said.

"It's an Old Firm game and we really shouldn't need a team talk for that. It's a big weekend for us. We are four points behind so it's obviously a very important game and it's down to us to get a positive result. We will take the positives out of the Seville game and for the first hour there were loads of positives."

Rangers were incensed by the denial of what looked to be a blatant penalty in the first half when their striker Steven Naismith was bundled to the ground inside the penalty area by the Seville defender Abdoulay Konko.

The Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson, however, ignored the appeals, incurring the wrath of Naismith, the Rangers manager Smith and the rest of the Ibrox squad after the game, with the fact that Konko headed the opener just after the interval adding to their sense of injustice.

Further strikes from Adriano, Luis Fabiano and Freddie Kanouté demoted Rangers to bottom of the section with only one point from two games but Novo and McCulloch remain confident that Rangers can recover to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Novo admitted some culpability for the demoralising defeat but insists all is not yet lost. "It is very disappointing, but these things happen in football," the Rangers striker said.

"We were sleeping a few times, including myself for the third goal when I lost the ball, and at this level you cannot do that. It was a bad result for us but there are still four games to go and it's still possible that we can do something."

McCulloch also believes that Rangers' Champions League hopes are not already dashed after just two games. "It was shown that we can play, in the first half especially we passed the ball and we had a couple of chances," he said.

"They didn't really threaten until they got the first goal. So I definitely think we can qualify. We are still in a good position and second place is definitely a target for us.

"The next Champions League game [against Unirea Urziceni] is a big game and we need a good result. Our draw in Stuttgart was a really good result and we were unlucky not to win so we are confident we can get that second place."