Rangers set to give McCoist Cup start

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The Independent Online
Ally McCoist, the Rangers striker, could start in tonight's Tennent's Scottish Cup fourth- round tie with Clyde at Broadwood. The record-breaking forward has had an injury-hit season, making just 22 domestic appearances, although he has scored 15 goals.

He returned from injury on Saturday, coming off the bench to score the winner from the penalty spot in the 3-2 victory over Motherwell. He is now fully fit and the Rangers manager, Walter Smith, said: "It is a possibility that he could play from the start."

However, Smith will still be without McCoist's fellow striker Gordon Durie. The club captain Richard Gough is also injured.

Tonight's televised meeting has all the makings of a classic cup tie, pitching the League champions for the last seven seasons against the Second Division minnows. "This is a cup tie to look forward to because it throws up everything the Scottish Cup is all about,'' Smith said. "We are going to a club with terrific facilities and who are on the up. They have one or two players of experience added to one or two younger players, and when I saw them against Dundee they showed a great deal of enthusiasm.

"We will have to match that enthusiasm if we're going to proceed to the next round. Charlie Nicholas is one of their more gifted players. He has been around at the top level for 10 to 15 years and is still showing enthusiasm to play.

"This will be the chance for him to be on the big stage. He might have thought was past him now, but he'll enjoy sharing the limelight with Paul Gascoigne and Brian Laudrup which makes him one to watch.

"Every club in the Premier Division, when playing teams from down the leagues, has to guard against complacency, but my players will be up for it, and I don't see that as being a threat to Rangers."

While Walter Smith and David Murray have spent millions in creating a championship-winning outfit at Ibrox, Clyde boast a side costing just pounds 19,000. The most expensive player in their team will be Keith Knox, who cost pounds 10,000 from Stranraer in 1988, while the bulk of the players have arrived through the ranks or as free transfers.

Alex Smith, the Clyde manager, is hoping that one or two of his more experienced players will be available tomorrow.

"Ian Angus and Graham Watson are both added to the squad from Saturday and I'm happy to have these players available because of their experience of big games," he said.

"This is a big game for the club and people will see what the merger between Clyde and their stadium is all about. For us to get any kind of positive result we would have to be totally concentrated for 90 minutes, be at our very best and go through the game without any errors. It will demand total perfection from our point of view.

"We need to add the ingredients to make it a classic cup tie and to do that we require to take the game to them at some stage. Rangers would expect to have the temperament for this but cup ties can do strange things to players."

Despite their lowly position in the League, Clyde are a go-ahead club and several years ago set up a ground-breaking football academy for the stars of the future.

And Smith, who has a full-time squad, is clearly relishing the chance to show off what is happening at the club. "We have 22 full-time players and five on the YTS scheme in a structure which will produce a production line of young players,'' he said.

"To buy the publicity we are having for this game is something you can't put a price on, and it will certainly help as we are always trying to secure sponsorship to allow the academy to continue.''