Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, yesterday said Fifa's timing could not be any worse as the transfer saga surrounding Daniel Cousin's move to Fulham finally looks set to come to an end.
The 31-year-old striker will learn today whether his £3m transfer will be given the go-ahead – on the same day Rangers face Panathinaikos in the Uefa Cup. Rangers and Fulham struck a deal on 22 January but require special dispensation for the transfer to be completed because Cousin has also played for Lens this season, and regulations forbid a player from appearing for more than two clubs in one season.
The wait for a decision has left both teams in limbo, with Rangers reluctant to make use of the Gabon international even though he remains on their books. Cousin would have been the ideal replacement for the suspended Jean-Claude Darcheville against Panathinaikos but Smith said the timing of the judgement will probably force him to leave the striker out of his plans in case the move to Fulham is approved.
"Even the date in getting a resolution to the problem has been an awkward one," Smith said. "From our point of view, it's rather awkward in the sense that, depending on when it happens, it affects his availability for the game. We'll just have to wait and see.
"If it had happened today [Tuesday] or on Thursday then we wouldn't have the problems on the day when we are meant to be playing, which is the worst aspect of it. If we did choose him and then found out he had been transferred to Fulham, it's a bit unfair to use him."
Darcheville and Cousin have both operated as a lone striker in Champions League games this season but Smith said he has other options. "We've had a number of the boys playing in that role at different times this season, in pre-season and in other games," he said. "We wouldn't have allowed Daniel to go to Fulham if we didn't think we could cover for suspensions or injury. We feel as though we can cover and we have other options in that department to use."
In fact, participation in the Uefa Cup means Smith could even scrap the 4-5-1 formation he favoured throughout their involvement in the Champions' League.
"I might change it in the games against Panathinaikos," he admitted. "In the Champions League, I felt that gave us a good base on which we could work. We had mixed results – we started really well and finished poorly in terms of results.
"We go into a new tournament now. Panathinaikos are a strong team and we will have to play very well over the two legs if we wish to progress."
Rangers and Panathinaikos are both top of their domestic leagues and enter the tie in decent form. "Our reports on them have been good," Smith said. "Like us, they are sitting top of the league at the present moment so they are a good side and we wouldn't think otherwise."
Steven Whittaker is a doubt for tonight with a hamstring injury, meaning Sasa Papac could be recalled to left-back, with Kirk Broadfoot remaining on the other flank.
Provisional Rangers squad: McGregor, Broadfoot, Cuellar, Weir, Papac, Ferguson, Hemdani, Burke, McCulloch, Boyd, Naismith, Novo, Alexander, Davis, Dailly, Buffel, Adam, Gow.