Gough ready to return

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The Independent Online
Richard Gough, the Rangers captain, and his fellow defender David Robertson could be back in contention for Rangers' Tennents Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic at Hampden Park on Sunday.

The Rangers manager, Walter Smith, will definitely welcome back his first- choice goalkeeper, Andy Goram, while the two defenders, missing through injury for several weeks, are progressing well.

The news over Goram will hardly be welcomed at Celtic Park. On more than one occasion this season, the Rangers goalkeeper has denied Celtic with a string of superb saves. After the goalless Old Firm encounter on New Year's Day, Celtic's manager, Tommy Burns, said: "You can engrave on my tombstone `Andy Goram broke my heart'."

Goram's heroics have been partly responsible for Rangers' unbeaten record in five games against their Glasgow rivals this season. Looking ahead to Sunday, Smith said: "It will be a difficult game to call because most of the league games between the sides are played like cup ties.

"I don't think Celtic will do anything different from the previous matches, but nothing prepares you for this fixture. You can never go in saying you are completely confident, although that is not to say you don't have faith in your own players."

Meanwhile, Scottish football's man of the moment, Ally McCoist, said victory on Sunday would mean more to him than his hat-trick in last Saturday's 4-2 win at Raith Rovers. McCoist, who was yesterday named Bell's player of the month for March, said: "If we can get through the season undefeated by Celtic, we will be in the final. It is as simple as that.

"I am really fired up for the game, and you always want to be involved in the Cup final. It is a great occasion. Celtic have been taking the plaudits this season - partly because they haven't done well in recent years, so people can see their improvement. But that doesn't bother us, because we only have to look at the fact that we are several points better off now than we were this time last season."

The 33-year-old Rangers striker - who scored the only goal in Scotland's victory over Australia last week when he captained his country on the occasion of his 50th cap - faces one of the toughest decisions of his career this summer when his Ibrox contract finishes.

Offers from the United States or Japan could surface but Rangers will be keen to keep their striking legend for a little while longer at least. McCoist said: "We will sort something out, I am sure - but there's always a chance that I won't stay.

"If I get another year or two, I'll be delighted but, in the meantime, I don't want anything to undermine our chances in the championship race and of reaching the Cup final."